1. Understand the Process and Set Priorities

2. Explore Your Interests

3. Investigate Colleges

Understand the Process and Set Priorities

Choosing a college is a process that you focus on in your junior and senior years of high school. It is important to select a college based on your needs. The college should "fit" you intellectually, socially, and spiritually, as well as match your particular learning style.

When selecting a college, there are many factors to consider. It is important to first prioritize your needs by asking the right questions.

What kind of college do you want to attend?

There are a variety of types of schools available such as universities, private colleges, community colleges, trade schools, etc. Learn the difference between them and select the type that fits your educational requirements.

Liberal Arts Colleges emphasize undergraduate study and provide a broad education with a wide range of majors. At a liberal arts college, students focus on their major in the junior and senior years of college. While attending a liberal arts college, students are tought a variety of subjects and can be easily trained to go into many areas because of their broad education.

Universities are larger institutions that offer undergraduate and graduate levels of study and are comprised of liberal arts or sciences colleges. Universities offer coursework in a variety of subjects and generally have a more diverse student body. They also provide research facilities and additional resources to support students' educational needs.

Specialized Institutions focus on a specific area of study, such as business, engineering, or the arts.

Community Colleges are popular among many students who want a quality, low cost advanced education prior to transferring to a traditional 4-year university. Community colleges offer many advantages, including:

  • Provides a high-quality education
  • Costs less to attend than a traditional university
  • Provides smaller classes and more personal assistance
  • Provides college credits that are often transferable to a 4-year institution or independent college
  • Enables you to obtain a Certificate of Study, Associate of Arts degree, or Associate of Science degree that is transferable to a 4-year university
  • May offer a Transfer Agreement. (With a Transfer Agreement, if students complete a lower division requirement and maintain an acceptable grade point average, then they are guaranteed admission to certain colleges or universities. This agreement is available at many California community colleges and, upon completion, the student is guaranteed admission into either the California State University of University of California system.)
Trade Schools are popular because they provide exactly what students want to learn and a degree can usually be obtained in 2-4 years.

Where is the college located and how much will it cost?

Are you most comfortable staying close to home, or are you willing to travel far to get an education? How much debt, if any, are you willing to incur to further your education? These are very important questions to consider when choosing a college. There are many financial aid options available, so plan carefully and compare the financial aid programs at each of the colleges you are considering. Many independent colleges are offering more scholarships to meet the financial needs of their students.

What special programs does the college offer?

Consider your unique interests and expectations when choosing a college. Investigate special programs that will satisfy your personal needs and goals, such as:

  • Study Abroad Programs
  • Internship Programs
  • Alternate Scheduling
  • Sports Programs
  • Drama/Journalism Programs
  • Honors Programs
  • Special areas of expertise
What is the school's personality and environment?

In what environment will you succeed? Find a college environment that will suit your particular personality and learning style. To learn more about a college's environment, do the following:

  • Visit the campus. How does it "feel"?
  • Talk to representative of school.
  • Find out what kinds of support are available to students.
  • Talk to students.

Next: Explore Your Interests

Take the First Step | Plan in Middle School | Plan in High School
Choose a College | Get Accepted | Obtain Financial Aid |
Communicate | Survive Freshman Year |
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