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Critical Questions To Ask Before Choosing A College
Congratulations! Either your child is approaching his/her final years in high school, or YOU have made the decision to further your education. That in itself is possibly the biggest decision to make about college. We also live in an era that embraces the attitude that you’re never “too old.”
One of the most common misconceptions about college is that all colleges and/or universities are difficult to “get into” or that entry acceptance is always competitive. This simply is note true.
Keep in mind that most community colleges and state-funded universities are almost always eager to maintain a feasible population of students in order to function. In many cases, you will simply need to have taken the SAT or ACT, hold a high school diploma (in some cases a GED), and be ready to fill out a lot of paperwork or online applications. It is the private universities and church-funded institutions that are generally more competitive to enter. They are also much more expensive.
Start with asking some general but critical questions before you consider which institution of higher learning to attend.
- What career, occupation, or objective are you hoping to achieve? Be sure to give this ample consideration because there are many college graduates out there still seeking suitable employment.
- What are the demographics of your potential choices? In other words, consider proximity, living arrangements, transportation, food services, potential for off-campus employment, etc.
- Which college can you afford? Consider potential scholarships, grant opportunities, college work/study programs, or family or personal finances
- Analyze the specifics and accomplishments of each college you are considering. Yes, look for college reviews and graduation statistics. Inquire of acquaintances and relatives who have attended college or hold a degree. Check out the percentage rate of job acquisition after graduation.
- What are the admission requirements? If you have taken the SAT or ACT, was your score at an acceptable level for this institution? What entry requirements are there, i.e. must you submit a portfolio or is it competitive?
Contemporary options in this 21st Century
Fifty years ago, higher education almost always consisted of living either on or near campus. The options then included dormitories, on-campus apartments and housing, fraternity or sorority housing, or whatever apartments and housing that students might find within a reasonable distance.
Fast-forward into the 21st century and there are definitely more options. First of all, there are myriad community colleges which are almost always more affordable and generally offer curriculum that is transferable for credit to a university either before or after an associate’s degree is earned. If you are interested in earning most of your general education classes (such as general Humanities, History and basic Mathematics classes) at a community college, it is often a good option because it’s much like “sampling” college on a smaller scale.
A very prevalent option is online learning, which is available from most higher learning institutions. Obviously this requires having some basic computer skills, determined self-discipline and time management skills, and the availability of technology. A drawback is students do miss out on much of the “college life” experiences that are inherent in attending college in person.
A Final Word of Critical Advice
Many people are intimidated by the entire higher learning process. The fact is that most college graduates felt the same way at some time in their lives. Probably the most important factor to consider and to grasp is that this is all very doable! Yes, research and planning are required but the pay-off is ultimately worth it.
When you have that degree in your hand, whether it is technical degree, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, remember that it is something that cannot ever be taken away from you.
Furthermore, if you are discouraging yourself that you will be four years older when you finish any program, ask yourself this question: “How old will I be in four years if I DON’T do this?”
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