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Lexington Clipper-Herald, September 2009 College Bound

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What to consider when choosing a college EDUCATIONQUEST FOUNDATION Start narrowing your college choices during your junior year so you have plenty of time to select the best school for you. Following are questions to help you start, and common mistakes to avoid. What do you want to study? If you know what you want to study, research schools that offer programs in that area. If you don’t know what to study, it’s okay - many students begin college undeclared and some pursue academic transfer programs at community colleges. What kind of school do you want to attend? Do you prefer a large university or a small college? Are you interested in a community college? What kind of student/teacher ratio do you want? What can you afford? Consider the overall cost: tuition, room and board, books, transportation and recreation. Determine what you and your parents can afford to pay out-of-pocket and plan to apply for scholarships, grants and loans to make up the difference. Calculate the debt your family may need to incur

for your college education. Where do you want to go to college? Do you want to live close to home and commute? Do you want to be in a major city or a small town? How big of a factor is out-of-state tuition? If you want to go out of state, investigate reciprocity programs such as the Midwest Student Exchange Program. Avoid these college search mistakes: Don’t limit your search to familiar institutions. Just because your parents or siblings went to a certain college doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Don’t limit your search to colleges you think you can afford. The more expensive the school, the more financial aid you may be eligible to receive. Don’t choose a college just because it’s near your boyfriend or girlfriend. The school may not be a good match for you. Don’t insist on an out-of-state school just because you want to “get away.” Even if you attend college in your hometown, you can still “get away” by staying on campus most weekends.


Lexington Clipper-Herald, September 2009 College Bound

Making the most of a college visit EDUCATIONQUEST FOUNDATION College visits provide the opportunity to discover the culture of a school, its campus and surrounding community while learning about the admission and financial aid process. Visit as many colleges as you can during your junior year and the summer before your senior year. For a realistic experience, schedule your visit on a weekday when school is in session. It’s also helpful to visit your top colleges a second time. Your visit will be more productive if you first learn about the college through its website. Most college websites have a section devoted to prospective students, and many allow you to sign up for a visit online. You can also read the student newspaper, visit online libraries, and get information on student services and employment. Look for departmental web pages where you may be able to download a class syllabus and a reading list. “We offer a lot of opportunities for students to visit,” said Kevin Halle of Wayne State College. “Most institutions offer individual visits and will also have a group day. We call the group day ‘Fridays at Wayne State,’ the University of Nebraska-Lincoln calls them ‘Red Letter Days’,” he

added. Group visits usually include a campus tour, and may also touch on scholarships, financial aid, and support services. Individual visits can be tailored to the student’s needs and interests. In addition to a tour, take time alone to get a feel for the campus. Hang out in the student union, find coffee shops with wireless Internet access, eat in a restaurant close to campus, or attend athletic or cultural events. Think about what’s important to you regarding housing and your time outside of classes, and ask the appropriate questions. Many colleges have more than one campus and may offer specific degree programs at only one of the sites. Mike Kolker, a recruiter for Metropolitan Community College in Omaha (MCC), suggests that students speak to an admissions representative before they schedule a visit. At the end of a college visit, you’ll most likely have a strong case of “information overload.” Take time to process the information with your parents. After homeownership, a college degree is probably the second largest investment you’ll ever make, so select your college with care.

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Lexington Clipper-Herald, September 2009 College Bound

College Bound 2009  

A small guide on how to choose the right college for you and preparing for the transition from high school to college.