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The Smart Way to Choose a College

When it’s time to start thinking about where to go to college, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process and the public relations efforts made by some of the most expensive schools in the country. This can lead a young person down a road leading to hyped-up promises, high student loan bills when the education is finally complete and not as many job prospects as was hoped for before graduation.

There are some common mistakes to avoid and some good tips to follow to help make college the most productive as possible and the most valuable.

  1. Do look at the cost of the college being considered. The most expensive is not necessarily the best or the best option for a particular student. There is a wide range of price points for a Bachelor’s level education. It is worthwhile to shop around and perhaps consider a state school, which typically has more reasonable rates. Remember to figure in the cost of housing, if the school under consideration is not within travelling distance of the family home. It would be worthwhile to look at local schools in order to save on the expense of housing.
  2. Make sure to do thorough research on graduation rates and job placement rates for the school and program being considered. Remember to sit down together and come up with a list of questions to ask, such as “Does the school offer job placement services?”
  3. Research on starting salary for the major course of study and the number of job openings will be critical to planning beyond the 4-year stint at the school. If the program has poor salary prospects and/or a poor outlook, look at other options. Be flexible with plans to make the most of the education being received.
  4. Many young people do not know enough about themselves to know what field would be most satisfying and at the same time most lucrative. Personality and career testing is definitely worth the cost to ensure a good future fit and to avoid many years of job hopping and chronic job satisfaction issues.
  5. If the student is set on a particular major that is leading to a job with slow growth and low starting salary, shopping around for the most inexpensive school is going to be the most important consideration. Some people want to be psychology, social work or English majors, despite the challenges that lie ahead of them.
  6. If academic performance is good, be thorough in seeking out scholarship opportunities. There are many sources of scholarships, which can be researched online. Applying a scholarship to an already modestly priced education may mean that a student loan is needed minimally or not at all.
  7. Beware online schools that lack accreditation and have inflated costs for tuition. Also online education is not for everyone and if self-discipline has been a past issue, this may not be the best option.

Overall, a college education is one of the most important investments a person can make. Choosing wisely may mean the difference between a mediocre outcome or one with a promising future and little debt.

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