How to decide which college you will attend?

17 Jun

If you know why you want to go to college and what you want to study, your college choice could be narrowed down in your favor. More specific goal you have, you will find the appropriate schools. For example, my cousin had a dad who became terminally ill while she was in high-school. She wanted to help sick and injured people so she picked a nursing school and became a registered nurse. Knowing what you want to be and how and what college degree helps achieving your goal is the most important. If you know what you want, Congratulations! Research which school has the specific study field and program. School website will tell you the curriculums and expertise of each faculty member.

The second step is writing down the cost of schools you have in mind. They should include:

  • Tuition – most likely the biggest cost
  • Books – surprisingly huge burden if you don’t shop around! Reading assignments from professors are usually overpriced books written by the professors. These books do not have much value in real world after you are done with school. So do not buy a new textbook!
  • Facility fee or any school fee – For example, some schools charge students separate lab fee, technology fee depending on major or type of classes apart from the tuition. These fees are academic version of overweight baggage fee of airline.
  • Room and board (or dorm cost) – usually you can save money by living off campus with lot of students and cook yourself. Dorm is expensive and noisy. If you are not required to live in a dorm, find an inexpensive place and share with your friends.
  • Transportation – Find out if you can get around from/to campus with public transportation and the cost. Some colleges provide free bus to/from, or around campus; some give students deeply discounted bus passes. Also you may want to go home during a holiday season. Know what the round trip cost to see your folks.

If you or your family has abundant wealth, or you receive enough scholarship to cover the college expenses, go to the college of your choice. But if you can’t afford it, the cost of attending college must be the top criterion.

After identifying and evaluating these two things – college curriculums and the cost, you might want to research weather, alumni, neighborhood atmosphere, crime rate, student organizations, and other amenities.

In summary,
1. Figure out what you want to be,
2. Identify how to reach the goal (which school has a program you need), and
3. Find out the total cost to achieve the goal.

Knowing what you want to be is a critical question for your future. But I understand at age 18, or even some grown-up folks, “what do I wanna be when I grow up?” is a confusing question. I didn’t’ know the answer when I was 18. In the next blog I will talk about how to pick a college if you don’t have a clear idea what you want to become or study but you want to go to college anyway.

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