College is a HUGE investment. From the lifelong friends you meet, knowledge you gain, and career you eventually purse — it is one of the most important decisions that high school students face. With soaring tuition costs, it is also a huge financial commitment. So students and families need to devote the time to research colleges and truly understand why that particular college is the best fit for the student.
Countless books and articles have been written about college admissions. At Halstrom, we want to provide our top 5 considerations when choosing a college.
1. Why do you want to attend college? Besides football games, making new friends, and finally moving out of home, why, really, are you going? College supposedly gives you the knowledge and skills to prepare you for the real world. But what does this really mean? Make a list of all the people whose opinions matter to you and ask what they really got out of college. Personal and relatable stories are better than any book or article you will read.
2. What type of student are you? Remember, the main objective of college is to receive an education. We’ve seen countless cases where students select the best colleges they are accepted at, not the ones that are the best fit. For example, can you survive in an intro biology course that is graded on a curve with 2,000 students in an auditorium taught by a PhD student who can barely speak English? If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t apply to large public universities.
3. What about community college? Community college is a great option for the following reasons: 1) it saves you money, 2) it gives you more time to decide your future studies / career pursuits, and 3) it is a great test to determine whether you can handle college. Colleges also like community colleges transfers because these students display a certain level of maturity and motivation (the dropout rate at community colleges is over 50%).
4. What should I choose as my major? Very few high school students have enough information or experience to choose a major. Most college students change their minds two or three times before they settle on a major but can still graduate in four years. Being undecided is a good thing and will leave you open to more academic experiences. Plus, your major doesn’t necessarily have to directly relate to your career (Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, studied clarinet).
5. What research should I do? Everyone knows that a campus visit is the best option but not everyone can afford (time and money) to visit all the schools. School websites and conversations with current students are also good supplements. But to go beyond what typical students do, 1) find and contact the admissions officer assigned to your region, 2) e-mail a professor in a field you’re interested in pursuing, 3) read recent press releases about the school, 4) become a fan on the school’s facebook page, and 5) read online student reviews on sites such as www.studentsreview.com.
Please contact our directors if you have any specific questions about choosing a college, tuition, or help with applications. We are always available to help!