Choosing a college is a major decision that will affect at least the next two to four years of your life, depending on which school and which program you choose. Many students attend college right out of high school simply because it seems like the logical next step. With college tuition rising each year and millions of college graduates still struggling to start a career, however, it is important to think through this decision systematically before you make your choice.
Here are the top ten questions to ask yourself before going to college, as well as some important questions to ask when it comes to making your decision.
This video explains why community college is a good choice.
Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going to College
Before you even decide to attend college, there are some important questions that you need to ask yourself. Your answers to these questions will help you to determine if the timing is right for you to attend college or if you might be better off waiting a few years. These questions will also help you to narrow down your choice for a major so you can choose the best college to fit your interests. Here are the top ten questions to ask yourself as you think about attending college:
- Do you know what you want to study? If you don’t already have some idea of what you want to study in college, it might not be the right time to go. College is expensive and the last thing you want to do is waste your time for 2 to 4 years and rack up a ton of debt.
- Do you need more education/training for a career in your chosen field? If you have an idea about what you want to study, think about whether you actually need more education to be successful or if an internship or apprenticeship might be more beneficial.
- What kind of certification or degree do you need? If your chosen field requires you to have some kind of certification or degree, find out whether you can get it by going to college.
- Can you afford to go to college right now? College tuition is expensive no matter where you go and the costs add up quickly. Think about whether you can afford to go to school right now or if you might need to work for a while to save money.
- What are your options for paying for college? Not only do you need to think about whether you can afford school, but how you are going to pay for it. Will you take out student loans? Apply for scholarships? Work while in school?
- What size college do you think is right for you? Colleges come in all different sizes and the one you choose will be partially based on your choice of major and partially on your personal preferences.
- Where do you want to go to school? Do you have a certain location where you’d like to go to school? Can you find a local school or would you prefer to move elsewhere?
- Do you plan to live on campus or find your own housing? Where you live while you are in school can add to your expenses or detract from them, so think carefully.
- What kind of social life do you want to have? The size of the school, as well as the location you choose, will impact your social life. If you want to have an active social life, find a school that offers a variety of activities.
These are just a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself before you commit to going to college after high school. In the next section, you’ll find some questions you should ask yourself and the admissions department when considering specific schools you might like to attend.
The Top Questions to Ask When Picking a School
Now that you have a better idea of whether college is the right choice for you, you can start thinking about specific schools you might like to attend. It is important that you do some upfront research to create a list of schools that are worth looking into – your answers from the previous section will help you to compile this list.
Once you have your list in hand, take the time to examine each school in greater detail and think about making a campus visit if you are close enough to do so. During your campus visit, ask the following questions to get a better sense of whether or not the school will meet your needs:
- What is the average class size for classes in your chosen major? The class size will determine how much individual attention you can expect from your professors. Larger class sizes are usually fine for introductory classes but you’ll want more attention in higher level classes.
- What kind of academic resources does the school have to offer? Does the school have a career center, an academic advisor program, a tutoring center, or other resources?
- What prerequisite or general education requirements do you have? Some liberal arts schools will require you to take a math, science, and writing course no matter what your major is.
- What is your graduation rate and job placement rate following graduation? Knowing the graduation rate and job placement rate will help you know what to expect when you are ready to leave school for the “real world”.
- How much is tuition and what other fees do you charge? Tuition costs may vary depending on whether you are a full-time or part-time student and there may be additional taxes or fees.
- Do you offer financial aid and, if so, is it merit-based or need-based? Once you have determined tuition costs, you should ask about financial aid options to see whether you can afford to go to that school.
- Are there any work-study opportunities on campus? Most schools offer some work-study opportunities but some of them only offer these positions to the students with the highest need. Be sure to ask what the qualifications are for getting a work-study job.
- What are the housing options for students? Does the school offer guaranteed housing for underclassmen and are there options for off-campus housing?
- What kind of social and extra-curricular activities does your school offer? Does the school offer any sports or clubs and what kind of social opportunities are available on campus?
- How do you help to prepare students for graduation and future careers? Does the school have a career center that will help you write a resume and find an internship? What kind of support do they offer after graduation?
This video explains how to choose the best community college for you.
Before you decide which school to go to, you need to think long and hard about whether college is even the right choice for you. Asking yourself the ten questions provided above will help you to determine the answer to that while the questions in the next section will help you to pick the right school. Keep in mind that there may be multiple schools that meet your needs and would satisfy your interests, so take your time and think carefully before making your choice.
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