How to Choose the Right College

college tuition payment plansWritten by: Janet Barger of Student Choice

Statistics show getting training after high school will help you get a better paying job doing work you like. Going to school is also a big investment – you are investing your time and investing your own money or taking out a student loan to go to school.

Whether you want to go to a university, technical school, trade school, or community college, here’s how to be sure you are choosing the right school:

 

Visit the following websites:

  • Federal Student Aid Website – Choosing the Right School
    Direct Link: www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov/choosing
  • The US Department of Education site with a tool that lets you search for a school based on its location, size, degree offerings and other factors. Enter your choices and the search tool will tell you which schools fit your preferences.

OR

 

Talk to your Guidance Counselor.

Your high school Guidance Counselor can help you focus on your needs and goals, and they have information about different types of schools. Your counselor also can help you collect or prepare application materials. And help with recommendations.

 

Shop around.

Contact or research more than one school.  If your area has a community or local university, check the school’s website or can the admissions office to find out what kinds of training the college offers. If you are looking for vocational training, check the Internet – or the Yellow Pages under “Schools” – to find options. You should also check your state higher education agency, the consumer protection division of your state attorney general’s office or the Better Business Bureau (www.nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator  includes this data) to find out whether there have been any complaints about the school(s).

 

Visit the school.

Contact the school(s) and schedule a visit, preferably while classes are in session. Take a formal tour, attend a couple of classes, and then tour on your own. Get a feel for the school; make sure you are comfortable with the facilities, the equipment, the teachers and the students.  And, even the neighborhood!

 

Don’t be afraid to ask!

A good school will be happy to answer your questions about its programs.  Depending on the school, ask the following:

  • About its students:
    • How many graduate?
    • How many get jobs because of the training/degree they receive?
    • What kind of job placement services does the school offer?
  • About its teachers:
    • How many tenured professors?
    • Are classes taught by teaching assistants?
    • What certifications do they have?
    • Do they have real world/on-the–job experience?
  • About the school:
    • What accreditation does it have?
    • Are they financially stable?
    • Are they for-profit or not-for-profit?

 

Check the cost.

Make sure the school(s) gives you a clear statement of the cost of tuition which includes tuition, fees, room and board as well as college related expenses such as books and materials. Remember that any financial aid you get will be applied first to paying the school’s tuition and fees. If there is money left over, the school will give it – known as a “refund” – to you to help you pay for things such as food and rent.  Find out about school, major or program specific scholarships, grants, etc.

 

Choosing a school is a lifetime investment!  

Use the above steps and your choice will be an easier one!

 

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2 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right College

  1. Pingback: Proof that College IS Worth it! | Student Choice Blog

  2. I agree 100% that it’s best to shop around and visit the location of the school before making any decision. Doing so definitely helps to give you a broader and better understanding of the school, area, and people you will be surrounding yourself with. Plus, it will keep you protected and your costs low, especially later on. Thanks for sharing!

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