Pick The Right College The First Time And Avoid the 5-6 Year Degree

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Helping clients pick the “right” college is one of the most important decisions when it comes to saving money on college. If the college fits the student’s personality, the probability is high that the student will graduate with a degree in four years, and get a job afterward. That can add up to a lot of money for your clients.

There are many factors involved in the college decision-making process, all of which requires considerable research on the student’s part. This research should be centered on the following twenty key factors, and which of these factors are the most important to the student and family:

  • Location
  • Size
  • Athletic Programs
  • Talent Programs
  • Special Programs
  • Diversity
  • Greek System
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Weather
  • Co-op Programs
  • Job Placement
  • Religion
  • Attrition
  • Student/Faculty Ratio
  • Faculty with PhD
  • Campus Setting
  • Campus Safety
  • Alcohol/Drug Policy
  • Student Body Reputation

Below are some additional questions students should ask themselves to prepare better for the college search process:

How far from home do you want to be?

It is time to deal with the reality of who you are and if you want to be closer to home, or further away. If the college is a considerable distance from your home, it may interfere with your parents' ability to visit you while you are in college. This may be especially important if you would like them to see you at an athletic event or a stage performance. It also affects how frequently you can go home. You should also consider the ease and cost of arranging for transportation to and from home.

Have you identified a major, a career direction, or general area of study?

If not, that is a critical question to answer. To fine-tune this process, you should take some career development survey to help determine possible career directions. Many students enter college with an area of interest and change their direction while in college. Still, others have not made up their mind about a career direction, or a major. Colleges understand this and as a result, many colleges allow students to start college as "undecided" about a major.

Think in terms of urban, suburban, or rural environments. When in a large city, or close to a large city, the city may exert a powerful influence on you and your collegiate experience. Is this what you are looking for as part of your experience?

Suburban locations may seem ideal as the balance between urban and rural but if you like to be in the woods or hills, they can still be quite a distance from you. At the same time, even in a suburban location, unless the college offers easy transportation from your campus, the city can be quite difficult to access. The rural environment is probably ideal for someone who wants to be away from external influences and may want to be close to the hills and woodlands they enjoy, but can be dreadful for someone who needs the excitement, energy, and offerings of a major city. Think about what these choices mean to you.

Academically, what degree of challenge is best for you? How do you respond to pressure-laden environments? Are you looking for a school where you can participate in some activities or one where most of your time would be devoted to classroom work?Are you comfortable with the idea that you may be near the middle or lower part of your college class or do you prefer being near the top of your college class?

These questions relate directly to the demands and intensity of a college situation. How you respond is important to your success academically and to your emotional well-being over the next several years.

Selectivity in the admissions process is a key consideration in formulating a final list of college applications. There are degrees of selectivity in admissions with some colleges admitting 10%-15% of its applicants; while on the other end of the spectrum, some colleges admit virtually all applicants. It is fine to apply to your dream school regardless of the degree of difficulty in being admitted, but be sure that you apply to some that have less rigorous admissions standards.

Are internships, co-op programs, study abroad, independent study, core curriculum, and required courses important to you?

If any of these is in your "must have" or "avoid" lists, make them part of your college search.

Sports, clubs, and activities may have been important to you in high school. Do you want to continue with those same activities or investigate some new interests? What is available on each campus community that appeals to you?

For Many Families, Cost Is A Bigger Concern Than Getting In

Cost is a concern for most families, and each family must determine its own level of financial comfort. It is vital that all families discuss limits early on in the process. It is equally important to recognize that financial aid is available to families of ALL income levels if you understand the system and the right financial strategies can yield the same out-of-pocket cost, regardless of whether the college costs $25,000 a year or $60,000 a year.

Students enter college from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Then they graduate into a workforce with a specific set of skills, knowledge, and attitude shaped by very diverse experiences. No two graduates are alike, and no two schools are alike. The right college choice can make a big difference in the student's future; however, the wrong choice could cost families a bundle.

Families are starting to realize how desperately they need a CCFS® (Certified College Funding Specialist) to guide them through the process of paying for college. Otherwise, they will have no choice but to go into greater debt and jeopardize their retirement future. As a CCFS® (Certified College Funding Specialist), you can help these families who are so desperate for answers.