With so many choices available for higher education these days, it's easy for teens to become overwhelmed when trying to decide which school is right for them. From traditional on-campus learning to online classes, there's a number of options for prospective students to consider. Here are Tutor Doctor's tips to help choose a college that's right for you!
1. Programs and majors. Many colleges and universities are renowned for particular fields of study. If you have a major or career path that you are interested in, we recommend researching schools that specialize in these areas and offer a variety of courses. On the converse, if you haven't decided on a major yet, public schools and universities that offer a wealth of general education classes are an excellent option.
2. Financial availability. It's no secret that college can be expensive. With this in mind, it's important to consider your budget and financial assistance when deciding on a school. There's a lot of factors that go into play when it comes to tuition costs. For example, the vast majority of schools will charge less per unit for in-state residents. If you decide to go out of state for college, these added costs need to be considered. Furthermore, there's a bunch of great options for student aid these days, from federal grants to private scholarships, as well as registration waivers, transportation assistance, and more. Community colleges are also a great choice for students looking to complete their first 2 years at a fraction of the cost.
3. Living situation. If you plan to live on campus, make sure you are accounting for room and board expenses. The cost of living in a dorm can be as much as (or more than) the tuition itself. For this reason, many students prefer to attend local colleges and commute to school while continuing to live at home.
4. Learning and class style preference. As we mentioned before, online colleges can be a great option for students (and adults) with busy schedules. Some students like online courses for general education classes, whereas other students may prefer traditional classroom lectures. While we always recommend taking several classes on campus and meeting your professors in person, some students may prefer to complete certain units off campus. When researching schools, make sure to have a look at what class formats are offered – many colleges, for instance, offer “short-term” classes that are compacted into smaller time frames. Others offer weekend or night classes. All of these factors are important to consider when making your choice of school.
5. Pace and convenience of learning. Relating to our last point, we all have different schedules and responsibilities. Keep in mind that a “four-year degree” does not have to be completed in four years! Many students have work, family, or personal reasons for not wanting to take a full load of classes. A rigid four-year course program might not be the best option for some students. Community colleges are always a great choice for students that want to take classes at their own pace, or just want more time to explore higher education – take a few extra elective courses, perhaps! Whatever you decide, make sure your college path is consistent with your personal goals.