Things to Consider When Picking a College

Beautiful May. Things to Consider When Picking a College.

Flowers, sunshine, and for many, a metric bleep-ton of stress.

In addition to students of all levels wrapping up finals and Summer plans, many are making the decision to further education elsewhere. Juniors are starting to think about where they should apply, seniors are sifting through acceptance and rejection letters trying to figure out where to spend the next four years, and many college graduates and soon to be graduates are in the same boat for various types of grad school.

I've done the undergrad thing, and recently went through the application process for law school. Here are some things I picked up along the way.

Cost: And not just the cost of tuition, you need to think about the cost of living. If this is your first shake at college, chances are you haven't lived on your own. How much will your parents/family help you? How much is an apartment? Are you willing to share a bedroom until you're in your 20's? How much is it feasible for you to work and keep your grades up? For some, cost won't be an issue. For others, it may be everything, but it's ALWAYS something to think about.

Location: Where are you really willing to live? Are you really attached to your family? How is the neighborhood around the school? Safe? Are you willing to trade in having a car for public transportation? Are you prepared for culture shock? This is an area where I'm pretty flexible. I was lucky enough to get into all the law schools I applied to, but I chose to attend my second choice over my first because of a way better scholarship...even though it's in a place I'd rather not live. However, I have seen people drop out or transfer closer to home because they miss their family.

When to consider starting at community college: So, I passed high school by the skin of my teeth. I was a really shitty student. I graduated high school on a Friday and started Summer semester on Monday where I got kick ass grades to compensate for my lackluster high school record. For the Fall, I got special permission to take 22 units (the max was 18) and was able to apply to regular universities that Spring. I only spend one year at a JC, I now wish I had done two years to save money. Starting at a JC didn't hinder me in any way, even if some people look down on it.

Focus on retention and employment rates: Colleges are going to throw a plethora of skewed and confusing stats your way to try to convince you to go there. Sometimes they'll do this before they even make the decision to let you in (a waste of paper). For this law school cycle, I saw that a lot. Your best bet is to find a third party that collects these stats for you. For undergrads I would use the college board website, if you're looking into college and you don't already have an account there...do it now! I used the American Bar Association stats in making my decision for law school.

Extra tips for once you get there:

  • Don't be shy, make friends. College is stressful, friends will help you through. I had a rule that I always got the number of at least one person in every single class. If you're not a social butterfly, befriend someone who is, and you'll meet all of THEIR friends.
  • Don't skip studying to party. Parties will happen every single weekend and they're all the same. There is no “party of the year” that you just can't miss.
  • Join a club that interests you. You can never network too early.
  • DON'T make dating your first priority. Just....don't.

Good luck :)


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What Guys Said 21

  • A good my take and all of these things are all things that should be considered where looking to expand your education.

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  • Not necessarily in order.
    Cost.
    Location. Living at home or off campus.
    Class hours that permit working.
    The lack of fluff courses like "women's studies" or "being black" in the curriculum.
    Placement rate.
    Minimal "social consciousness" reputation. College is not a cocoon.
    Thorough curriculum in my specialty.

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  • "I have seen people drop out [...] because they miss their family."- I call that they had a taste of life hm.

    I'm studying in a college level and am about to finish my 2. nd semester :)

    I hope things will get better than to share a room, mass studies and starving Y_Y

    It's kind of a long term battle but not like a real battle.

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  • are you going there to party to fit or going there for an education to be that oddball.

    I was the oddball.

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  • I completely agree with this MyTake!

    When I graduated from High School, I knew I wanted to commute to school and live with my parents, because I never did have the urge to live with roommates. I also knew I wanted to go to be a High School teacher. Luckily for me, Miami University's (Ohio) Hamilton campus was in the SAME city I lived in and it was one of the best schools for teaching in the nation. I was happy about that.

    Unfortunately, I barely made any friends. Most of the people I met were narrow-minded snobs who look down on people for not having a lot of money. I was hated for no reason, which sucked, because it was a deja vu of High School all over again. I don't think being shy has anything to do with making friends. I'm not shy at all, I approach people all the time and start conversations. The funny thing is, when I used to be shy as a kid, I had MORE friends than I do now (Granted, kids are nicer.)

    However, the social aspect is not important at all. If anything it HARMS you while in college. I would focus on studying.

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  • Do your research. Don't be swayed by professors, recruiters and guidance counselors. They will say anything to get tuition dollars rolling in. Go to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to get a good idea of the job outlook by fields of interest. Unfortunately, there aren't always transparent ways of looking up job placement rates by major, since a lot of private and small colleges are reluctant to give out those numbers. That's why you need to just conduct your own research and consider future demand of particular jobs. Hopefully, we will start to see a shift of people opting to specialize in majors that teach REAL TECHNICAL experience and hard skills and opting out of liberal arts and programs teaching soft skills. Those soft skills to me are also marketable, but I doubt we're going to see schools put money into helping those students tap into their potential using them. With that said, we may see students opt out of school altogether and consider trade/occupational schools instead. Cost is another thing. Hopefully, Warren can talk some sense into congress and we will see some action on their part as it pertains to the student loan crises.

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  • Housing and food costs are where colleges get you. Freshman year cost me $12k in housing/food alone, while tuition was only about $7. It was a waste but I had to get the housing and meal plan.

    So be careful about that.

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  • I think what people make the mistake of is majoring in something they "like" and then they whine that they can't find a job when they get out of college. Well, if you get an oceanography degree because you like the ocean and you surf a lot, expect to be like my friend who tried for 8 years to get a job with his oceanography degree and now tours with a punk band getting paid in beer and pizza. Sure that's cool when you're 19 but when you're 34 still sleeping on the kid who promoted the show's parent's living room floor, you're just a loser.

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    • A lot of those kids aren't even mature enough to make decisions a lot less important than college. We're seeing a lot of 18 year olds suckered in by slick marketing on the part of recruiters from colleges and bad advice from guidance counselors who sometimes get students to stay longer and pay extra for coursework they didn't need. I don't think we should blame the students, but we should encourage the parents and students to research colleges BEFORE signing the piece of paper that gives them boatloads of money. They were just told to get a degree in anything and they will be fine. Should we not hold the schools accountable for selling useless degrees to young kids?

    • Yeah, I think the schools bear partial responsibility, but the unfortunately, the university system in this country basically has a monopoly on "education." Accreditation should depend on results, not that you meet some arbitrary curricular requirements. But I think industry is starting to see that just because a person has a degree they aren't necessarily qualified to do a job. Where I work, it doesn't matter if you have a doctorate, you start at the bottom and learn the business. Of course having a degree does allow you to move higher and more quickly if you prove yourself, but nonetheless they want you to show that you have more than just a piece of paper.

    • Well with a degree like that, you have to be willing to take your education further. Such as getting a masters in marine biology or geological surveying

  • Well tuition fee is a lot less that in USA so a 10k$ a year is enough for tuition, food, dorm basically you have to choose a good place where you know doors will be open for you when you graduate , the closer to home the better for obvious reasons , just somewhere you feel comfortable attending daily and dont mind staying there for the next few years.

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  • thanks, I am in same situation so I need to figure things out

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  • Costs and what it will take to get a job - typically a technical job.

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  • you choose such thing while picking college... haaahahaaha... lalalalololol..

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    • you are giving preference to beauty and all without considering campus placements, highly educated staff, Infrastructure and off course brand of Institute..

  • At the end of the day, the reason you go to college is to get into a great career. Go to the highest ranked school with the best employment prospects. Everything else is secondary.

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  • Your major matters more. And the school doesn't matter nuch if it isn't a top school, like very top school. I woukd be more concerned about debt if it I wasn't going to a top school. And a well known school with a big forptball team does not make it a top school. Get grounded and then select a school.

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  • Oddly enough, I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go to school and what I want to major in already. What's more concerning for me is finishing high school without having a meltdown ): (2015 fall semester classes have already planned me a full summer of assignments...).

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  • Good myTake. I only have one thing to point out. Why isn't Greece and Turkey on the map?

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  • Good take. You made a lot of nice points.
    Especially the one about passing up your first choice when you just CANNOT afford it.
    I could've gotten accepted to just about any college in the country.
    Key word there, "ACCEPTED."
    Just because you get accepted to a school doesn't mean you can handle the school, the money, or being so far away from home.
    There's a really nice private college I wanted to go to, I was even eligible to "compete" for their full tuition scholarship (... I met the bare minimum grade point and ACT scores) and I WOULD have gotten their 11,000 dollar scholarship.
    But their tuition alone was like 32,000 a year, and I'd have to move across the country.
    So I'm going to a perfectly respectable public university in my state of Alaska for free, (yes books will be paid for too, and I'll leach food and housing off my family, fortunately) with a chance at getting a forgivable loan on medical school in a few years.
    Long story short, it's better to go to a good college for low cost, than a GREAT college and have debt you'll pay off for the rest of your life.
    Great take.

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  • My problem is that my university has some stupid roommate system where you have to browse through roommates and their short paragraph descriptions of themselves, and then message the ones you think would make a decent roommate.
    I only found two who looked like they might be compatible, and neither of them messaged me back.

    So if that doesn't work out, the only thing that you can do is wait until the manual search deadline, and then get some automatic roommate assignment that's based off a "habit" survey that was way too short.

    Fuuuuck.

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    • Do you have a bro you can request being roomed with?

    • Nobody from my school is going to my university, so no... and browsing through peoples' descriptions, it looks like almost every guy is some dumb jock swaggot. Sigh... I hope I don't regret going to this uni.

  • My advice for anyone going to college, regardless where it may be: get your math classes done at a community or technical college. Look at the program you're interested in at the prospective university, see what math classes they need, and take their equivalents at a community college.

    Math in higher education is taught as a liberal art, not a science, which is in my mind a load of bullshit., focus on on theory rather than application. At a community/technical college, its the other way around

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What Girls Said 19

  • Good advice!

    Choose a course you truly would love to do, that you're excited to learn about otherwise you'll find yourself hating your decision when you're stressed to your eyeballs and near the end of the course. Keep your life goal in your mind throughout to give you motivation.

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  • It started so gay

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  • One thing I want to add that is very important is to make sure you go visit the college and actually walk around campus. Talk to students and faculty. Take note of what kind of kids go there. Every campus has its own culture and you want to make sure you like it before you commit to four years there.

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  • i just went to the only university that accepted me. luckily, it was a good enough school.

    i wish i took the junior college route though. it wasn't an avenue that was really discussed when choosing schools.

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  • Only 5 things to consider:

    1) Price. Can you afford a private school 50k-60k a year? Or would you rather want a
    public college for 10k-20k a year?

    2) Quality of education. How good is the actual education that you can get?

    3) Specific programs. Maybe you are a potential pro athlete and want the best NCAA team or want to be the next Van Gogh and desire top-notch arts department?

    4) Location. The place of the school is your environment during summer, winter, spring, and fall. The weather plays a bigger role than you think and the college town you are in is your all-year entertainment

    5) People. What kind of culture does your school have? Is it cool and ratchet, maybe it is in the suburbs and everyone is weird and introverted? The people will influence your friends you make and people you want to date

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  • Good article :)

    Just wanted to add some extra tips:

    -Networking, interview skills, etc. are VERY important. To be honest, you can major in anything you want & find a job. The reason why a lot of people can't find jobs is that they basically slap their degree on a resume & say "Here, give me a job!" Unless you majored in finance, it doesn't work like that. Experience is important as well, whether its volunteer, an internship, part-time jobs, an organization, etc. No one is gonna give you a job if all you did was study.

    -If you decide to date in college, date someone that is also in college, preferrably. They'll understand you better. I dated a factory rat during my senior year of my first bachelors & it did NOT work out well, partly because our heads were in too different places. He never understood the hardwork that goes into a college degree & never understood why I couldn't see him 24/7.

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  • Just wondering, how much are university tuition fees in America per year?

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  • I'm struggling with this right now, as I cannot drive and feel uncomfortable taking public transportation. I'm also shy, never been on my own before, and do not have any friends or connections. There is a smaller university near my home which costs about the same as a far better ranked university an hour or two away from my home. It also has some better opportunities. I also don't think my personal beliefs mesh well with the better ranked college though. So it is really a tough decision. I'm leaning towards the better ranked college, although it will be far more difficult.

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    • It would be tough but I'm willing to bet that if you put yourself out there you would grow a lot from the experience. Good luck :)

    • Yeah, that's what I'm thinking, it might be good for me to be put outside of my "bubble". Thank you!

  • location is HUGE. I decided to go to a uni that I thought I would like based on its reputation... cannot stand it there.. nobody speaks English so it is hard to learn and it is very liberal. research your uni first!

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  • It always amazes me how few americans consider going abroad where college is free for everyone. Sure living costs might be a bit higher but sure beats paying 20k a year for an out of state school

    I also don't quite agree with employment rates I mean sure, people from Havard will find it easier to get a job than people from Arizona State. But still statistics means nothing to the individual. If you're the 1 person in a class from Havard who can't find a job you'll be just a screwed as the hundres from Arizona state.
    And those statistics again are a very weird concept to me. Other countries don't do that. They do it for individual degrees not colleges, because they know you get out of college what you put in and that depends on you and you only

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    • College abroad is not free for Americans. It's actually quite expensive. International rates are quite expensive. You also can't apply for another country's financial aid if you are from a different country.

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    • @Xonen well then I'm around a lot of talented people because I know about 20 people who did the same and they're all doing well.

      I know a few who failed in other countries but 100% of the time that's because they stuck around people who speak their language all the time and only speak the countries language when absolutely necessary

      Ya at first it's a bit harder and it takes longer to process, but that's the point I've been trying to make for the past two days. You learn by living the language and you learn fast. A few weeks in, it won't be hard anymore

    • Lol alright. I get your point. But hey, at that point it might just be easier to work to earn scholarships and financial aid at a university that teaches in your language.

  • I'm so glad I graduated.

    Oh wait I have grad school in the fall. Fuck.

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  • God I remember going through all of this. Applications, stressing, applying for scholarships... and I'm going to graduate with a butt load of student loans still.

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  • I'm starting college in the fall and I'm beyond excited and also terrified.

    I made the decision to go to a smaller, more local university to save money while most of my friends are at UT. It was sad but I suppose it will be worth it later on.

    Thanks for the Take :)

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  • I'm only 3 years away from college and I've already got one picked. And a career choice.

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  • Ugh I need to be more forth coming with talking now. Oh the agony.

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  • Great tips! I have to go through the taxing process of deciding and applying to colleges in like a month, and will definitely consider your tips.
    But you seem to have missed placements. What kind of firms come for campus placements and what is the general starting salary. One wouldn't like to be underappreciated for their talent and knowledge... according to me that has to be the most important point to consider

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    • General starting salaries by major per college are pretty hard to find for SOME majors (not STEM). This list is far from complete, that's a really good point though, and I also did that for law school (looking into my specific program and who the school works with and blah blah) but not undergrad because I knew I was continuing education.

    • True...
      I want to go my masters too, but even as an undergraduate, I would want to study in a university where the who's who of my preferred course come to recruit the best.

      Of course the curriculum and the faculty matter too

  • I graduate next semester and I have my own apartment. I have plans to live with a relative of mine next year though for university thankfully.

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  • I'm considering all these things

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