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 TIP #280   This tip was sent on the week: October 3rd to October 9th 2010

Tip #280 - Tips for Choosing a College

Choosing the right college can be a difficult task. There are thousands of colleges and universities to choose from and many are worthy of being considered. Here are some tips that can help you select the appropriate college.

   1. For each potential college, find out the success rate of students obtaining employment, especially in jobs that are related to their major. The college should have statistics to back up their claims. Make sure the procedure used for compiling their statistics is clear to you.

   2. Colleges that offer internships in some of the fields you find interesting are worthy of your attention. Internships provide valuable experience and vital networking opportunities. Also, companies often hire interns that perform well. Choosing a college that has faculty members with good reputations in their field can be very useful since these faculty members can provide paths into the working world via internships and jobs.

   3. School rankings and a national reputation of academic excellence are often important factors for potential employers. This type of information can be found on the Internet and in magazines. Also, strong name recognition for a college is often a significant factor for employers. Name recognition can be a more important factor in getting a job than the actual quality of education the college provides.

   4. After narrowing down the field to a few colleges, visiting each of the finalists is vital. Visiting the campus can change your attitude about a particular school. Take the official tour and then do some exploring on your own. It's also important to talk to as many students as you can and get their impressions of the college. In addition, it's very important to contact a prospective school's alumni association and find out from former graduates if earning a degree from the school was helpful in obtaining a job.

   5. Unless you are very certain of the major you want to pursue, selecting a college primarily based on a potential major is usually not a good idea. Often, students change their minds about majors after they have completed some college classes. College courses can help you determine what subjects interest you as well as your aptitude for a given subject.

   6. One of the best ways to learn about the quality of a college and the satisfaction of its students is to ask about the percentage of students that return after completing their first year. Also, ask about the college's graduation rate.

   7. If you have selected several potential careers, ask potential employers for their college preferences. You can ask by telephone or email.

   8. Make a list of your important criteria and find out how well each college you're considering meets your criteria. It may be helpful to divide your criteria list into sections labeled extremely important, important, and somewhat important.

   9. When considering an expensive, private college that has local name recognition and an excellent local reputation, strongly consider if you will be staying in the area in which the college is located after you graduate. Sometimes graduates from expensive private colleges move to other geographical locations where employers have never heard of the small school they attended. In this circumstance, the extra money spent on the education simply doesn't help in acquiring a job.

  10. If the cost of college is a significant issue, consider attending a community college for your first two years. Community colleges are considerably less expensive than four year colleges, and you save on living expenses by living at home. Also, the classes at community colleges are typically less difficult. This makes it easier for you to work part-time while going to school. You can then transfer to a four year college to pursue your major. Most employers are more concerned about the college you attended while studying your major than the college you attended while taking general education courses.

In addition, you should answer the following questions about each school on your list.

   1. What types of financial aid are available?
   2. What degree programs are offered?
   3. What are the costs of tuition and housing?
   4. Does the school have regional accreditation?
   5. Do the departments offering your potential majors have additional accreditation?
   6. What is the average class size?
   7. What type of extracurricular activities are provided?
   8. Does the college have dorms available?
   9. What is the size of the student population?

Following the tips and answering the questions provided in this article will help you choose the college that is most appropriate for you.

This article is contributed by a FREE college search and exploration resource.


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