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Selecting a College

In the Career Planning unit, you were given the opportunity to figure out your career goals. If you did not work out your career goals, we highly recommend that you do this before you continue. It is always a good to have an idea of what you want to do before you start school so you don’t waste your time and money.

Step 1: Finding a School

college board website

On the College Board home page, www.collegeboard.com, you can search for a college that fits your needs. Look at the “College Search” box. If you don’t already have one or more colleges in mind, click “Find your match” to select features that you are looking for in a college. On the other hand, if you already know the name of a college you want to learn more about, look for the “Search by college” box, type the name of the school, and click “Search.”

There are many factors that are important for you to consider when choosing a college, including the following. See the interactive activity for more information on finding a school.

For each college you are considering, answer these questions by checking the college’s website or course catalog:

Location
How far is the school from your home?
How far is it from where you work?
If you don't have a car: Is there public transportation to the school? Does the school offer shuttle service?

Academic programs
Look at your education and career goals again.
Does the school offer what you need?
Can you transfer credits from this school to another school if you need to? For example, you might start at a 2-year college and then decide to transfer to a 4-year program.

Types of classes
What types of classes does the school offer?

  • Regular classes - Classes you must attend in person.
  • Online classes (distance education) - Classes you can take using the internet from home or anywhere that's convenient. This method is best for students who can work independently most of the time and don’t need to sit in a class with others. Some of these classes are hybrid — a combination of both online and in-class meetings on campus.
  • Televised classes - Classes that are televised live to satellite campuses so that more students can participate. Students who are not in the actual classroom with the instructor can phone in their questions. Students can also borrow a copy of the videotape if they miss the class. This option is not available at every school.

Class schedule
  • Some schools have classes on weekends to make it easier for adults to attend.
  • It may be possible to attend part-time instead of full-time. This may be better for you if you have a job, family, or other responsibilities.

Ways to get credits
  • Some schools give credit for life experience related to your major.
  • Some give credit if you do well on certain exams, like the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). For more information, go to the College Board website, http://www.collegeboard.com. On the home page, click the “For Students” box, and then click “CLEP.”

Cost
How expensive is the school?
Some workplaces help employees pay for classes if the material covered will help them on the job. Check with your human resources office.
If you received very little financial aid, or none at all, could you afford to pay for the tuition, fees, and textbooks? (The Financial Planning unit on this website has more information about this.)
Are you going to a public college or university? You can save a lot of money if you qualify for in-state tuition. Check with the college for the most current information. Here is some general information:

  • You have to prove that you have lived in the state, usually for one year.
  • You have to show that you plan to keep living in the state.
  • If you are changing the state you are living in, you may have to show you have enough money to be able to live independently.

Step 2: Campus Tour

Most schools offer regular campus tours.
Why go on a tour?

  1. You will become familiar with the size of the campus. Maybe it is larger or smaller than you thought it was.
  2. You will become familiar with various buildings on campus: the library, the admissions office, the financial aid office, the cafeteria, and the academic buildings.
  3. You will become familiar with some important faces on campus. For example, it's always good to know the people in the financial aid office.
  4. Often, there are many people taking the tour with you. This is a good opportunity to meet future classmates.
  5. On the first day of classes, you won't have to worry about finding your way around.
Call the admissions office or check the school's website for the tour schedule.

Things to do on a campus tour:
  • Bring paper and a pen to write down what you think is important to know.
  • Introduce yourself to the tour guide and at least one or two people on the tour.
  • Ask for a campus map if they don’t provide one for you. Use your map to trace your steps. Take along the Campus Map Worksheet to help you remember your way around. (If you don’t have Microsoft Word, go to the Links and Worksheets page in the Resources unit to get free software to open it.)
  • Ask questions! For example:
    1. What is the average student age?
    2. Are most students part-time or full-time?
    3. What are the hours of the library, cafeteria, or athletic center (or other places on campus you’re interested in)?
    4. Does the school provide bus service for the students?
    5. How much does parking cost?