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Choosing a university is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. You can start by asking yourself a few simple questions such as “What are my goals and interests?” and “Do I want to stay close to home?” Then — with the help of this guide — you can begin to determine what’s best for you, what will help you achieve your goals, and what will make a satisfying and memorable college experience.
College is a time when you can explore and broaden your interests, pursue your goals, meet lifelong friends and define yourself in ways you can only imagine now. This handy resource also will help you understand the college application process and compare institutions on factors that really matter. You will learn what questions to ask yourself, what questions to ask about the universities you’re considering and how to get answers.
As graduation approaches, you’ll be confronted with the choice of accepting a job or entering college. Which choice is best for you? National research has found that college graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn 84 percent more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. In fact, those whose education stops with a high school diploma may see their real wages decline over time.
How to Choose?
Choosing the right college for you means not only choosing where you’ll live for the next four years, but finding the best fit for your personality and interests. The best way to compare several colleges is to make a list of the things that are most important to you and see how each of the colleges you’re considering stacks up. What is a deal-breaker for you? Location? Cost? Size? Every university is different, each with its own personality and special traits – just like you. The more you personalize your college search process, the more likely it is you’ll find the perfect fit.
Can I Afford It?
The cost of a college education varies widely. In addition to tuition, there are fees, textbooks, housing, food and other expenses such as parking. The good news is there are many ways to finance your education, including financial aid and scholarships. Other options for paying for college include grants, loans, work-study programs and campus jobs. Given how valuable it is, cost should not get in your way when pursuing a college education. There are many resources available that can help turn your dream of getting a college degree into a reality.
The main idea is to get a high-quality education while you’re at college, but you can’t study all the time! You need extracurricular activities to make friends, relieve stress and have fun. Most schools offer a variety of student organizations, intramural sports teams and leadership opportunities. Find out what clubs the college offers that match your interests and inquire about the organization’s activities, members and qualifications.
Campus life also means football games and other athletic events, concerts, plays, dances, movies, and dozens of other activities. Don’t be shy — you’ll have a richer college experience if you get involved.
Your application, transcripts, class rank and entrance exams scores determine your acceptance to most colleges and universities. The tests primarily used for admission to college are the ACT and the SAT. These tests are used with your high school record to evaluate your level of academic knowledge. You can take the PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, and get first-hand practice for the SAT, as well as determine which areas you might need to focus on in preparation for the SAT exam.
As you gather information about the colleges you’re interested in, it helps to know the language and terminology used by universities to describe things like the grading system, coursework, admissions, etc. This glossary contains terms used by most colleges, although some definitions may vary slightly.