by Linda Yang
For college-bound seniors and their parents, searching for a potential college can be overwhelming. There are many factors to consider. Here are eight quick tips to get you started.
1. List three schools. If you need help building your list, try the education search on ISEEK, which lets you find schools by searching programs, field of study (major), or keyword. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, jot your schools down in a place where you can record more details about each one as you do your research.
2. Location, location, location. Would you like to go somewhere far from home or close by? Make a list of the pros and cons. For example, attending school in the state where you live could save you roughly $10,000. On the other hand, you might not have as much independence as you’d like.
3. Cost. The cost of tuition, fees, textbooks, and supplies can really vary. In 2010, the tuition and fees for a full-time student attending a private 4-year college totaled roughly $30,000. By contrast, state university tuition and fees came to about $7,000. A more detailed estimate of tuition at 2-year and 4-year schools in Minnesota is available here. (Keep in mind, though: affordability shouldn’t be the only factor you consider, since there are scholarships, grants, work-study options, loans and other financial aid options available.)
4. Programs. Make sure the schools you’re considering offer the program(s) you’re looking for. If you know what you want to study, you can research the program by talking to an instructor or advisor in that field. However, if you’re undecided (as many beginning college students are) you can browse schools that offer programs in different career clusters to get a sense of what’s out there and who’s offering it.
5. Graduation rates. You’ll want to think about how many students attending a particular school actually graduate in 2-4 years. In 2008, 48 percent of students attending a 4-year state university attained their bachelor’s degrees within six years. This report contains more details.
6. Size. School campuses range from very small to very large. And class sizes at different campuses can range anywhere from less than 20 to more than 1,000 students. Be sure to choose a campus where you’ll feel comfortable and which will work well with your learning style.
7. College support. To be a successful college student, it is essential that you have the necessary support. Are there writing centers and tutoring services available? Is the college updated with the latest technologies? Does the campus or city have adequate hospitals and clinics? What extracurricular activities, organizations, or student union opportunities are offered? These are all important features to investigate.
8. Schedule a tour. After your research, it’s time to see the real thing. Schedule a tour to experience campus life. Seeing is believing, and a campus visit can ultimately help you decide if this is the place for you.
By completing these quick eight steps, you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect college for you. Good luck on your college search!