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After you graduate high school, you have one summer left. You celebrate with family or friends, feeling accomplished. You did it! Now comes the hard part: figuring out what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. If you’re not a major procrastinator, then at this point you’ve probably already gotten started looking at colleges, dealing with tuition and finding scholarships to help pay your way through. The rest of the money, you might have to get in Grants and loans and hopefully not get yourself into too much debt. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Dealing with all this can be such a hassle and it can also be extremely stressful. With all this on your mind, it’s a wonder you even have time to think about what you want to do with your life at all. Some of you may not even know throughout your first year in college, but that’s okay! You don’t have to figure everything out right now! Give yourself some time to think about these important decisions that you have to make.
Once you know what you want to go into, (or if you don’t), you have to find a college that is best suited for you. Do you want to stay close to home, or leave town? Do you want to go far away, like out of state, or do you want the most advanced university available to give your future the best chance? Do you have the financial means to go to an advanced college or are you pressed for money? Which one has the best programs, which ones have the correct degrees you want? All of these are questions that need to be taken into consideration when you’re trying to decide where to go.
The first thing to consider is location.
Did you want to live on campus or drive? Would you rather stay at home and do online? Let’s look at living on campus. Wherever you’re from, you either want to stay there or you’re so ready to leave. How far away from your hometown are you willing to go? Is this college in a small town with access to places you’ll need to go? Gas stations, grocery stores, regular stores, restaurants, entertainment…? How important are each of these to you? If you drive to campus, how much money to have to spend on gas? What about the wear-and-tear on your vehicle? Do you own a vehicle? If you’re going online, how do you know what college would be best for you? Which ones have the best online programs, the ones that are most interactive, that will still get you a normal degree? Be sure that any college or university you look up is legit. Staying safe online is one of the most important things to remember.
Secondly, when trying to find what college or university you want to go to, you want to consider price range.
Ask yourself how much money you have now? How much debt are you willing to get yourself into? What kind of jobs can your career get you? How much would they pay? Will that be enough to pay for your loans six months after you graduate? Will it be easy for you to find a job after you graduate? Each college is priced differently and each one is unique. You just have to take the price and look at how much you’re going to be spending from your own pocket versus what you can get in scholarships if any at all. How much will you have to pay directly during the school year?
Third, you might want to consider the people.
What kind of people goes to this college or university? Are they open, nice and friendly? Do they make you feel at home when you visit, or do you feel isolated and pushed aside? What about the professors? To them, are you just another number, or do they try to get to know you? Do they care about your career and teaching you what you need to know to get a job? Most freshmen find it hard to make friends in the first few months of college, so try to assess how easy it is for you to make friends. Do you want friends at all? Are you okay just going to class and being alone in your dorm, or staying at home if you drive? What kinds of activities do they do and how easy would it be for you to get involved? Are you comfortable with the people there? If the answer is no, then you might want to reassess where you’re going.
Last, you’ll want to consider the programs and degrees that this college offers.
Do they just have the bare minimum of what you’ll need for your degree? Do they have a Bachelors, Masters or Associates degree? Will you have to start here and transfer somewhere else two years down the line? How long will it take you to get this degree? A longer period of time means that you’ll use more loans and get yourself into more debt, but on the other hand, it will allow to get a more advanced degree in your area of study. What sort of classes does this college offer? Are any of them helpful to you? If you’re hesitant about their degrees or they don’t quite have what you want, then I urge you to reconsider. Finding a college or university that supports what career you want to have is highly important!
So the next time you feel a headache pounding in your head and you know you’re getting stressed out about trying to decide where you want to go to college, just stop. Take a deep breath. Now, just think. Ask yourself these questions and don’t stop until you find the answers you’re looking for. Think deeply about your career and what you want to do for the rest of your life. Does earning money mean more to you or doing something that you love? Do you want to wake up every day, dreading your work, unhappy and bitter about the choices you made? Do you want to be able to have the best college out there, or a normal college experience? Do you want to be so in debt that you never get to see any of the paychecks that you earn? On top of paying for your house or rent, health insurance, car payment or car insurance, groceries, plus the regular stuff you need every day, you’ll have a student loan payment to make every month. After that, will you have enough money left over to eat out, or see a movie or go shopping? Stop for a moment and just consider all these questions, questions to ask yourself when deciding where you want to go to college