The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Right College
Are you still undecided whether you should go to college or not? You have probably started browsing online for a few schools that may be a great fit for you, yet the choice can be quite overwhelming. Moreover, you still need to consider your majors, cost of education, and several other relevant factors that will affect your chances of getting a college degree.
With the help of this ultimate guide to picking the right college, you can find great tips and strategies that are relevant to your needs. Boost your chances of selecting an excellent school and profitable major by checking out this ultimate guide to picking the right college.
Is College for You?
This is a common question that young adults ask themselves. Primarily, this question stems from those who have been told and encouraged to go to college, but they continue to wrestle with the idea that it may not be for them. If you can relate with this concern, then you must try to get to the bottom of your true feelings about how you want your future to turn out.
For instance, determine your perspective of college. This may be quite difficult to get at since there are various opinions about pursuing higher education that can affect how you view it. Try to analyze your feelings about college life and the entire university experience. Many people claim they want to be a doctor or a movie producer when they grow up, and these ambitions stem without parental influence. Find out what you have always wanted to be and determine if these careers require a college degree.
You should also think of other people who have gone to college, as well as those who never pursued a higher education. Ask them about their reasons for not going to college and how they feel about their current jobs. You may also interview college grads about their struggles in life (e.g. paying off their student loans, finding employment) and allow them to share their opinions about getting a degree. Although you have your own opinion, asking around can help you get an idea of what you can expect if you find another person with the same academic abilities and financial status as yourself.
Costs of Higher Education
The College Board states that a typical budget for in-state public university for the 2012-2013 academic year is about $22,200. On the other hand, a moderate budget at most private colleges is around $43,200. Now, you may wonder what makes up these massive charges, so you can determine if pursuing college is worth your investment.
Basically, the tuition is the money that you pay a school for an academic education. Then, there are miscellaneous fees that are intended for specific services including internet access, library, and other expenses such as housing, school supplies, books and meals. The following is a breakdown of costs that most college students pay for until they graduate.
Colleges charge tuition based on the units per academic year whether it is semestral or quarterly. Most public colleges offer cheaper tuition for state residents while out-of-state students need to pay double the amount that residents pay for. Tuition also varies by major, and courses related to computing, engineering, sciences and fine arts are more expensive than other fields. Hence, you should determine your preferred major and the cost of tuition to check your financial ability to pay for your education.
Fees may include student registration, parking and library access. Typical items are also included in these fees such as health insurance, diplomas, ID cards, student union membership, laboratory supplies, computer access, student activities, local bus service, athletic facility usage, and studio usage, to name a few. At some universities, freshmen are required to pay a certain amount for administrative and orientation costs, which they only need to pay once. If you want to learn more about student fees in your preferred school, you may contact the university’s financial aid office, cashier, admissions and registrar.
3. Housing and Meals
Room and board expenses depend on the food and housing plan that you choose. It is worth noting that on-campus housing is available in different shapes and sizes such as apartment-style or dorms. According to the College Board, the typical cost of housing is $9,200 at four-year public universities and $10,400 at private schools. Meal and housing options are also available separately, so you may choose to live on an apartment off-campus and get your meals on-campus.
4. Books and Learning Materials
Aside from textbooks, several school supplies add to your expenses such as required reading materials, printed class items, office supplies, and reference books. The average cost of supplies is $1,200 for both public and private schools.
5. Transportation and Personal Budget
There are numerous expenses that you still have to think about, although these are not school-related in nature. Some of these include clothing allowance, entertainment, local transportation and personal items. These miscellaneous expenses also add up to your overall budget for college. In most cases, the cost of these items ranges from $2,500 to $3,200.
While these costs may overwhelm you, there are always practical ways to keep them down. Keep in mind that you can always obtain financial aid to minimize your worries about paying for these items. With this in mind, you should not give up on your dreams of going to college because of the hefty price tag that comes with it.
Ways to Avoid High Tuition
In case you fail to get into your dream school in your state, you may still find other options by checking other colleges beyond your state’s borders without breaking your budget. While the cost of out-of-state college tuition and fees may be very expensive, you can consider checking out several options to save on your tuition fees. The following are some effective strategies that can help you save money as you pursue college out of your home state.
1. Look for waivers.
Various schools offer tuition waivers and scholarships to encourage top-performing students to enroll in cross-state borders. Idaho, for instance, provides non-resident school tuition waivers to qualified students. However, these are offered to students with an unweighted GPA of 3.75 or higher. Since tuition waivers vary from one state to another, you should contact the school for further information about waivers offered.
2. Search for a reciprocal contract.
An academic reciprocation contract is an agreement between various states, which allows students to attend college in a member state at a cheaper price. Major reciprocation programs are offered to qualified students residing out of the state such as the tuition break program by the New England’s Board of Higher Education, Western Undergraduate Exchange and Mid-West Higher Education Compact.
The Academic Common Market is a contract between 15 participating southern states that waives out-of-state tuition entirely, although this only applies to students that are majoring in a course that is not offered in their home state’s public colleges.
3. Opt for colleges at border states.
If you plan to study in a school that is only over the border, you may also qualify for an in-state tuition. In most cases, schools provide out-of-state scholarships or tuition waivers to students who live in border counties or in areas that are within a specific distance from the school.
However, you should apply early to ensure the availability of these waivers. Clark College, for instance, only requires its border-waiver applicants to provide proof of residence in a qualified Oregon county at least 90 days prior to their college term.
4. Become a resident.
You may find in-state tuition discounts by being a local of that area, yet requirements still vary from one state to the next. Although veterans, emancipated minors, married students, and people over 24 years of age can gain residency by transferring to a state at least a year before college starts, dependent students may qualify for in-state tuition if their parent has lived in that state for a minimum of one year.
Reputation of College
Perceptions about colleges and universities are common in pop culture such as TV, films, books and other forms of media that present various schools in specific ways. However, stereotypes do not often come to terms with reality. College rankings may also be used to gauge a school’s standing, and the highest ranks in these ratings go to widely-respected and renowned schools. In fact, elite colleges are given high marks because these institutions are known to offer world-class education. Nevertheless, it is the school’s reputation that drives a student’s choice of applying in a university instead of its institutional attributes.
In a study by researchers at UCLA, a school’s reputation makes a huge impact to individuals who plan to attend college. After interviewing over 200,000 incoming first year college students at 280 schools, the survey presented that 62 percent of these students consider an excellent reputation very significant in their college decisions.
The benefits of studying in a school with a great reputation are evident since most employers take into consideration an applicant’s alma mater when choosing job candidates. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious drawbacks since some students only decide to enroll in a school because of the prestige factor even if they are not entirely comfortable studying there.
Majors and Why STEM is Better
National data reveals the great demand for STEM occupations that grew three times quicker than non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years. It is also estimated that over 1 million more STEM graduates are needed over the coming 10 or 15 years to fill in job positions.
In an effort to meet this growing demand of skilled professionals in the STEM fields, the government has allotted a huge budget in initiatives and programs that aim to inspire students to major in these areas. So what are the different opportunities that a STEM career offers? The following are quick facts about the benefits of STEM majors:
1. By 2025, a college degree will be a major requirement in about 39 percent of jobs in California. With more workers approaching retirement by that year including the difficulties in hiring foreign workers that specialize in STEM fields, there will be a deficit of professionals that can meet the demands of the state.
Aside from these challenges, the country will need to compete with the emerging foreign market that focus more on expanding and improving their STEM-related industries. Thus, job growth for graduates that major in STEM courses is expected to increase by 34 percent in scientific, technical and professional services by 2018, based on the report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2. Most STEM graduates earn a higher salary, as compared to graduates who major in other fields such as education and the arts.
3. You can make a massive difference in the society by developing or improving applications, devices, products and treatments. After all, STEM professionals are capable and skilled in solving real-world problems such as inventing advanced forms of energy for sustainable development.
The greatest advancements from mechanics and medicine have come from professionals who studied STEM courses. Thus, the STEM workforce has a high impact in the country’s economic growth, competitiveness and standard of living, according to the Department of Commerce.
4.With a STEM degree, professionals are challenged and motivated to solve common problems that the society faces, and they are encouraged to think critically in devising solutions and innovations for the nation’s progress.
Most people who are involved in STEM fields are satisfied with their jobs because they are able to take part in hands-on activities and devise practical solutions.
STEM jobs are estimated to increase by 17 percent during 2008 to 2018, which is higher than the 9.8 percent job growth for Non-STEM careers. In addition, the unemployment rate for people who major in STEM fields was 5.3 percent, in 2010.
On the other hand, other occupations have an unemployment rate of 10 percent. With all these benefits, it may be worth considering majoring in STEM-related courses for better career opportunities and professional development.
Is It Worth Pursuing Your Dream Job?
Have you always been passionate about writing poems, playing the piano, or dancing ballet? While you may be good at these things, doing things that you are good at may not be quite profitable in the real world (unless you are contented with a meager income, that is). “Follow your passion” does not always entail career satisfaction since in-demand jobs are focused on other fields that may not be relevant with your passion in the arts.
Different individuals search for various things in their jobs, but generally, those who succeed in their career enjoy a combination of these traits: respect, autonomy, creativity, and competence. In simpler terms, it is not practical to look for a perfect job if you want to attain financial security. Instead, you should try to get more of the important traits in your existing job.
Make the Most of Your Skills and Succeed in Your Career
Although you may possess valuable and rare skills that enable you to excel in a task you are passionate about, it is possible that you remain unhappy and discontented with your work. The problem lies in the fact that these traits may only be useful to you instead of your organization.
However, if you have become more valuable to your company, your superior may push you toward traditional job promotions that may come with a better pay and greater responsibility. While this may be beneficial to the organization, you may be more interested in increasing your value to obtain autonomy in your project selection or schedule.
So how can you become successful in your career while maintaining the passion and dedication to your job? The best way to achieve this is by developing your skills and traits and using these to take better control of your career path while steering clear of standard trajectories. Keep in mind, though, that this act of leverage demands courage, but it can lead to outstanding rewards eventually.
Outweigh the Costs Vs. the Benefits of College Education
When some students are asked why they have decided to go to college, they are likely to respond in one of these three ways: 1) They are forced by their parents to pursue higher education; 2) They have nothing much better to do than take up college after high school; and 3) They aim to get a higher-paying job when they graduate.
Most students have been told by their parents that the only means of getting ahead in the real world is by pursuing a college degree, which also qualifies them for profitable jobs that will enable them to start living the American dream. This notion has led several students to take out expensive loans to cover the costs of pursuing higher education, get a college degree, and snag their dream job.
While this reasoning is not completely flawed, there are loopholes in this perception. It is a fact that college grads can make more money and land a desirable career, as compared to high school diploma holders. However, the cost of going to college is not a small amount of money. What’s more, students who look into studying a five- or six-year course can cause serious financial hardship to their families.
The Census Bureau reports that an average college grad with a Bachelor’s Degree earns at least $22,000 more in a year than a professional who has dropped out of college. Multiply that amount by several years that a person works prior retirement age, and you will realize that the cost of going to college outweighs its benefits.
Aside from the financial rewards of obtaining a degree, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that graduates have a lower unemployment rate than those who have never pursued college at all.
Pursuing College – Is It Really Worth Your Time and Money?
College may be very expensive, yet it is definitely worth it when you analyze potential benefits that you can gain from it. However, it makes sense to understand that the current economy and job market do not only require candidates who possess a Bachelor’s Degree to land a job. With the existing economic downturn and higher rates of unemployment, there is an extremely tight competition for profitable jobs. Furthermore, employers have added minimum requirements that aim to limit the pool of candidates applying for various job positions.
More jobs nowadays require a Bachelor’s Degree even for entry level positions. Twenty years ago, most of these positions might have been filled by individuals who only possess a High School diploma, yet the increasing pressure and competition in the job market provoke employers to increase their requirements before hiring or promoting workers.
In Arizona, for instance, there are less than 450 job listings for applicants who possess a High School diploma, while there are over 700 job postings for those with a Bachelor’s Degree. Although these jobs may seem quite a lot for Bachelor’s Degree holders, over 8,000 graduates from the Arizona State University are bound to enter the tight competition in getting a job to pay for their loans, cover their daily expenses and secure their financial stability.
For most employers, they also consider the applicant’s GPA before hiring him or her. Thus, it does not matter whether these candidates are graduates from a prestigious university, but what counts most is their academic performance during their college years. Despite the tight competition in the job application process, graduates who meet the required GPA can qualify for a high paying job. In a study by the College Board, these individuals are more likely to obtain health insurance and retirement benefits provided by their employers, including salary increases and other incentives.
Overall, the number of benefits you get from attending college and obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree outweighs the cost in the long run. Moreover, students can explore several government aid programs that are intended for people in low-income brackets, so they can attend college. Alternatively, some students may choose to take part-time jobs, take out a loan, and search for other means of funding their college expenses. While the path towards earning a degree may be difficult, a promising career can serve as any students’ motivation to invest in post-secondary education.
Making A Wise Decision for Your Future
So, are you ready to take the big leap and start sending in your college applications? If so, then make sure you keep in mind some practical ideas and tips presented in this guide to help you make better decisions as you explore the fascinating world of higher education.