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10 Steps to Picking the Right College

5 how to pick the right college for your childWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

This is the most popular question asked to almost every child.

The child wouldn’t even know what the career options out there are and what it takes to be a fire fighter or a doctor.

Kids are asked these questions in every phase of their lives and they have a different answer every time.

So, when you grow up and are actually finishing school, this question really hits home.

You suddenly realise it is time to make a choice and this choice could actually determine the rest of your life. Very few grow up knowing what they want to be when they grow up or what they want to study. These students are well prepared and would have done their research well ahead.

For those of you out there who haven’t thought much about it and are faced with the choices, here are a few tips to get your future in order.

How To Choose The Right College or University?

Now that you are in a stage where you have to decide on where to study next, you realise there are plenty of colleges and universities to be considered. Here are a few ways to ensure you don’t make the wrong choice:

  • List Them All

The first step is to list out all the colleges and universities around you. There will be quite a few around the area you reside in and there will be plenty in your state or outside your state. This way, you will know what all your options are and where you have more chances.

  • Research Well

Now that you have a list of colleges and universities, do a basic research on them. Find out about the courses they offer, the duration, the fees, requirements to qualify, admission process, etc. This will help you understand more about them and help you narrow down your potential colleges.

  • Narrow Down The List

Now that you are armed with enough information, narrow down the list. See which colleges and universities offer the course you want, which are affordable and fit into your future plans. You may want to study only for two years before you go out and get a good job or you might want to do higher studies before you start working.

  • Prioritize

Now, that you know what you want and what these colleges have to offer, prioritize. This way you will know which colleges you need to target first are, and which your back up options are. Split your list into three parts. First being the best colleges and the most difficult to get into. Second being the next best colleges and a little easier to get into. Third being the colleges you can surely get into.

What Should You Do Next?

Now that your list is ready and you know what is expected of you, start the application process.

  • Collect the application forms as early as possible. Different colleges give out applications at different times. Keep a track of the dates and collect the application forms on time.
  • Fill out your applications with care. You don’t want mistakes in the form as that is the first impression you are creating in the minds of your potential administrators.
  • Collect recommendations. Most of the colleges ask for recommendations and the better the recommendations, the better are your chances. List out the people from whom you can get the recommendations and find out when they will be free. Go in person and request them for a letter. Always give them sufficient time to write you a well thought out letter.
  • Collect other things required. Some colleges may want your mark sheets, some will want you extracurricular activities’ proofs, attendance record, etc. These are for the college to determine what kind of a student they will be taking in.
  • Get your financials in order. Getting a college education is expensive. Many will be required to take out one or more student loans. Get details about the various federal and private student loans. Get all your or your parents’ bank statements and other financial records in order. You don’t want to be doing all this after you are asked for it as many lenders don’t give you enough time. Also, you will have time to build your credit score which will help you get better loans.
  • Submit the duly filled forms on time. Always keep a close track of the deadlines and ensure your application form along with every other required document is submitted on time.

How To Select The Right College For You?

After you have applied to a number of colleges and universities, you have to wait. The wait is over once you start hearing back from them. If you receive acceptance letters from more than one college, you have to make a choice.

Rainbow of Books.Now how to do that? Here are 10 tips to pick a college:

  1. Understand what each college has to offer you, right from the courses to the additional facilities.
  2. Find out which colleges cost you lesser or have students aid programs. Some colleges have tie ups with the state to help out students.
  3. Find out how the earlier students from that college are placed in life. Colleges decide your career. So, if your seniors are placed well and have good jobs, your chances of getting a good job after your education, is also bright.
  4. If you have narrowed down on a course or know which company you want to work in, find out which college they favour. Many companies choose their employees from the same set of colleges, year after year, due to their good experiences.
  5. Talk to old students of the colleges to get first hand information about the college.
  6. Find out about the dorms and nearby student friendly accommodations. When you study, you need a decent place to live. Many colleges have on campus options that are limited. Many have off campus accommodations and you need to consider the distance. If you are going to stay far away, you will spend most of your time on travel.
  7. Find out where your friends are going. These are the people you grew up with and you know their tastes and preferences. You can find out their preferences and get inputs on colleges and courses based on their research.
  8. Check online for information about the colleges you are considering. Today everything is available online and doing a little research about the institution that is going to decide your future, is indeed necessary.
  9. Check when the courses begin. Many colleges offer courses that begin in summer and some in the fall. You need to know how long you will have to wait until you can start your course. If the course starting time coincides with your existing course, you will have to choose another college or course.
  10. Always follow your heart. Never join a college just because everyone told you to. Join the college that you feel fits your requirements. You are old enough to make the decision and this decision will shape your life.

What You Should Or Should Not Do?

Here is a quick checklist for you to follow during the entire college choosing process.

To Do Not To Do
Start your research early Wait till the last minute to gather information
Talk to friends, family, seniors and others to learn more about the college Blindly go by the information provided on the website
Consider your needs and dreams and choose a college accordingly Choose a college because your friends or siblings chose the same college
Get financial assistance well in advance, to avoid disappointments or loans with high interest rates Assume you can pay your college fees with grants and part time jobs
Collect application forms and submit the filled ones on time Miss the deadline
Send in your formal acceptance letter and thank the management Wait till the opening day to go in person to show your acceptance

How To Choose The Right College Major?

Now that you know how to choose the right college for you, the next step is to choose the major. There are a number of subjects offered by various colleges these days. Choosing the right major is important as it will decide which career line you will fit into.

However, many jobs are based on your soft skills like writing, presenting, etc, and don’t really bother about which subject you studied. But if you have the right subject knowledge, it is always an added advantage. When a company is considering 10 people for a job, if you have the right subject knowledge, you have a higher chance of being hired.

So, you will have to decide what career path you want to fit into and come up with a list of subjects you can major in for that industry. Out of these subjects, choose the one you enjoy the most or are comfortable with the most. There is no point in studying something you don’t like or understand.

How To Choose the Right College Degree?

Now that you know which subject you want to major in, which degree should you opt for? Every major subject has a few degrees associated with it. Many of the jobs are not restricted to a certain degree. There are work opportunities that only depend on your skills and general subject knowledge irrespective of what degree you hold in it. So, here is how you can choose right:

  • Find out what are the degrees offered for the subject of your choice (history, maths, biology, physics, etc.)
  • Find out which of these degrees are valued most. Some degrees have no value in the corporate world.
  • Find out the duration for each degree. Some degrees take longer than the others to complete.
  • Enquire about the other subjects that will be covered in the degrees. Sometimes, you may be forced to study a subject you absolutely hate.
  • Narrow down based on which subject you enjoy the most and are good at.
  • Also, look at other options. Sometimes a totally new degree could be your calling. It may have a great potential for job opportunities once it gets noticed. 

How To Pick The Right College For Your Child?

5 potential collegesAre you an anxious parent who wants to ensure your kid chose the right degree and college? Though children are old enough to decide what they want to study, a parent should help the child to make the right choice. A parent’s input goes a long way in influencing a child’s choice. They tend to trust their parents’ judgements and seek their help.

If your child is about to enter college and is struggling to decide where to study, here are a few ways to help them:

Be A Part

Take interest in the entire college selection process and be a part of all the steps. Help your child with finalising on a list of colleges, filling out application forms and collecting details. Your child may not know what kind of details to look for.

Understand Your Child’s Need

Sit and talk to your teenager and find out what they want to do in life. Understand their ambitions and goals without ridiculing them. You will be able understand what the child needs to study to achieve their ambitions.

Accompany Your Child

Go with your child to check out the campus, dorms, etc. As a parent, you know what luxuries your child requires and when you see a place in reality, you will be able to judge if it will suit your child. Also, you can ask the right questions when you are gathering information.

Help Financially

College education is no cheap affair. One needs to spend a lot to get a degree. Many students are forced to take a loan. Help your child find the right federal or private loan. Help them negotiate the terms and conditions as they have no experience in this field.

If your child requires a loan, help them find good loan options. If the options are not good enough, you can consider becoming a cosigner to help your child secure a loan. Getting loans with a solid cosigner is always easier.

Help Them Think

Encourage your child to think outside the box and consider more options available. Children may choose a subject or college just because it is “cool” or because their peers are doing it. Help them understand this has to be an individual decision based purely on their skills and preferences.

As a parent it is essential that you are a part of the entire career planning process of your child. With your experience, you can tell them what to do and what not to do to have the career of their choice.

Conclusion

Whether you are a student deciding on his college or a parent helping out their child to choose the right college, the likes and preferences of the student has to be considered first. With the above mentioned tips and information, it should be easier for you to choose the right college for you or your child.

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