Selecting a College
There are many choices when it comes to study after high school. Students should consider the differences between a two-year community college a large public university, and a small private University. There are benefits associated with every college option. Students should also consider many different factors in this decision including geographic area, location, campus diversity, size of the institution, professional goals, and financial cost.
- Types of Schools
- Public Colleges/Universities
- Private Colleges/Universities
- Community Colleges
- Vocational Colleges
- Technical/Training Schools
- Factors to Consider
- Size of the school/classes
- Academic Rigor of courses
- System; Quarter vs. Semesters
- Religious Affiliation
- Admission Criteria
- Overall Environment
Types of Schools
Public and Private Colleges and Universities
- Public Colleges/Universities:
- State sponsored – Primarily funded by state and government agencies
- Subsidized by the state
- Resident vs. non-resident tuition
- Generally lower cost
- Examples: UC Berkeley, UCLA, UT Austin, Univ. of Virginia, Univ. of Michigan, etc.
- Private Institutions:
- Funded by endowments, tuition, donations
- Either Independent or religiously affiliated – primarily funded by private donations or from religious or other organizations and student tuition.
- Private institutions are usually governed by a board of trustees.
- Usually cost more (also give out more Financial Aid)
- Usually offer smaller class sizes
- You need to consider at what you want in a school and need a school to have and which institution can provide that
- Examples: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, NYU, Duke, etc.
- In general, both public and private colleges and universities offer:
- Bachelors degrees
- Graduate studies (Graduate and Professional Degrees)
- Broader curriculum with more areas of study
- Different kinds of schools offer variety of experiences
- Differences between a college and a university:
- Colleges are usually smaller, but not always
- Distinctions between the two are getting smaller and smaller. It used to be simpler to tell the difference, usually a college was either “liberal arts” or a “teaching college” focusing on undergraduate degrees where as a university supported “research” and therefore graduate and professional programs
- Often a public system would have both colleges and a university, but the distinctions are getting harder to tell
- Students need to look at each college or university on a case to case basis to decide if it meets ther academics and personal needs.
Community Colleges, Also known as "two-year colleges" or "junior colleges", offer two years of study leading to an Associates degree and are designed to transfer students to four-year colleges. Community Colleges offer specialized training similar to a technical college or vocational school; in other words studies focus on preparing for the workforce.
What You Get: What You don’t Get:
Open enrollment Campus life
Economical College experience
Part-time option Less focus on academics
Smaller Classes University environment
Build remedial skills Less prestige
Less pressure More outside distractions
Teachers likely to be skilled teachers
Vocational Colleges, are Privately owned and operated. They offer short course length/(5-12 months. Some are longer (court reporting – 2 years). The curriculum generally has a job training focus.
Examples of types of careers:
Cosmetology, Mechanical repair, Court reporting, Paralegal services, Travel services, Secretarial, Medical assistant.
Technical/Training Schools award Associate degrees in: General education and elective courses. It prepares students for technical occupations. (Examples: Accounting, Dental hygienist, Computer programmer/analyst). These schools also award Technical diplomas/Apprenticeships/Certificates.
Technical Diploma: Usually offered to meet needs of businesses (Examples: Automotive maintenance, Accounting assistant, Pharmacy technician
Apprenticeship: Industrial or service trade
Certificate programs: Demonstrate completed coursework in focused study area (Examples: Advanced organizational leadership, Customer service, Landscape specialist)
What You Get: What You Don’t Get:
Specific training General education
Defined career path Bachelor’s Degree
Complete quickly Prestige
Narrow focus Broad focus
Less job opportunities
Less opportunity for advancement
Factors to Consider
Choosing the right place to study after high school is very important.
- There are many factors to consider:
- Is it a challenge?
- Is it a new experience?
- What kind of environment and people do I want to be around?
- What kind of setting do you want to study?
- Do you want to stay some where close enough to go home on the weekends?
- Do you want to live at home?
One thing to keep in mind is that there is no “right” answer… there are many factors to take under consideration, the best school for you might not be best school for your best friend; your top choice might not be your parents’ top choice.
Choosing the “right” school means choosing a range of schools … then the admission’s department at those schools will decide whether or not you are the “right” student for them!
- Access to public transportation (easy to get around)
- Diverse student body
- Small Town/Big City
- Downtown/Out in the country
- Distance from home
- Emphasis on research or teaching
- Single gender (all women’s or all men’s)
- Coed (Men and Women)
- Liberal arts/teaching college
- Specialized (known for particular field)
- Course offerings/Areas of study
- Admission Criteria:
- Whether or not you think you’ll get in, remember you need a range of schools
- Find out what each school is looking for
- What is the average GPA?
- What is the average SAT?
- How many letters of recommendation do you need and from whom?
- What type and how many personal statements/essays does the school require?
- Cost of Tuition
- What type of financial aid available is through the school?
- What do they do about undocumented students?
- Academic Rigor:
- How hard is it?
- What is the core curriculum like?
- What kind of services do they offer to students? Summer programs? Centers?
- Ratio (teacher/student)
- Teacher Assistants?
- Renowned Faculty – What is the schools ability to attract respected faculty?
- Military Academies are funded by the federal government, that means that they are FREE; you need a letter from a congressperson to “nominate” you for admissions, which is not that difficult to get if you are a good student
- Is ROTC available?
- Religious Affiliation:
- Does the school have one?
- What kind of services are available?
- Social Activities:
- Does the school have clubs that interest you or that you have always wanted to try?
- What sort of competitive teams or club sports are offered?
- Are there things you like to do on-campus or nearby off-campus?
- What the campus looks like?
- What condition are the buildings in?
- Housing - is it offered and/or available to students or is off-campus housing affordable/available?
- Are athletic facilities available to non-athletes?
- Are there places to study that work for you?
- Visit the campus if possible, especially the Student Union or Student Center
- “Interview” current students from your area or recent graduates – admissions offices and alumni associations can often help you get in touch with these people in your community. You have time to do this!!
- What is the reputation of the school? Is it known to be progressive, preppy, welcoming, etc.
- Where might you feel comfortable?
- What is the ethnic breakdown of the student body?
- HBCUs – Historically Black Colleges and Universities
- HSIs – Hispanic Serving Institutions
- What is the male/female ratio?
- What student support services are offered/accessible?
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