There are many paths to higher education. Research to find the school that is right for you.
First, decide which type of higher education you want to pursue.
- Community College – A two-year college that offers only associate degrees, which is typically equal to the first two years at a university.
- Technical College or Vocational School – a school that provides specialized training for a certain industry.
- University – A four-year institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees for students.
- Tribal Colleges and Universities – These schools are operated by tribes and generally have large Native American student populations. You can find out more about these schools by clicking here.
Second, consider these factors when choosing a school.
- Program Availability – Are there programs or majors offered that are in line with the ones you want to pursue.
- Location – Is this a place you can see yourself living for the next couple of years? Consider distance from home. Do you prefer urban or rural? What part of the country do you want to be in?
- Size – Look at number of students at the school, average classroom size, and campus size.
- Cost – Price of tuition varies among schools. For instance, private schools generally cost more than public. In-state public schools cost less than out-of-state public schools. Note: don’t let the cost of attendance keep you from applying. You won’t know how much aid a college will give you until after you are accepted and receive your financial aid package.
- Diversity – What types of culture, languages, and people are represented on and around campus?
- Private vs. Public – Public schools are subsidized by the federal government which allows them to have lower tuition rates than private schools, which are privately funded. Be sure to take cost disparities in my when choosing your school. Look closely at quarterly or by semester tuition rates.
- Selectivity – How competitive is it to get in? How many new students do they accept each year?
- Transferability – If you plan to transfer schools or start college attending a 2 year college with the intent to transfer to a 4 year university, make sure that the credits you earn are able to be transferred. In many cases, college credits do not transfer, require students to retake classes.
Third, maximize your options.
Keep in mind, there are probably many colleges that would be good fits for you. In order to set yourself up for success, it is important to maximize your options. At minimum, you should apply to 3 schools, a reach, target, and safety.
- Reach – This is a school you would like to go to, but depending on your test scores, academic, and extracurricular record, you might not get in.
- Target – You are a competitive applicant and will likely be accepted to this school.
- Safety – This is a school you will definitely get accepted and will act as a backup in case the other two don’t work out.
Need some help staying on track while applying? Check out the checklists below!