Choosing the right college will be one of the toughest decisions you will likely ever make. It’s more important than ever that you attend the right school, especially as the recent recession has led to skyrocketing tuition rates and significant cutbacks at some colleges.
Prospective students may feel like they are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to choosing the right college, but there are some basic factors you can take into consideration that can help you make a wise choice.
Here are some of our top suggestions for choosing the most ideal college for you:
Local vs. Out of State
Many students dream of studying far away from home and making a clean break from living with their parents. However, living far from home can be expensive, especially if out of state. Many colleges and universities charge significantly extra tuition rates to students that are from out of state. You will thus want to consider whether getting that sense of freedom and independence is worth the likelihood of graduating with overwhelming amounts of debt.
Private vs. Public
As a general rule, private schools are substantially more expensive to attend compared to public schools. Many students settle on private schools over public due to their usually small classes and small scale atmosphere. Moreover, it should be noted that some of the best colleges in the country are public and some even have relatively small class sizes. So before you decipher between a private or public school make sure you do your research especially with regards to how much they will cost you.
Online vs. Traditional
Many students are starting to choose online schools over attending a traditional four year college. Recently, online university programs have risen in popularity due to flexible schedules and their lower costs. Furthermore, many online schools are fully accredited making them just as valid and respectable to potential employers as an education from a regular brick and mortar school.
Reputation vs. Price
An Ivy League school certainly comes with plenty of prestige but is it worth graduating with potentially several hundred thousand in debt? Although attending a prestigious school comes with many advantages, you will want to consider what kind of job you hope to obtain once you graduate. Take into consideration whether your future career will provide you with a generous enough income to pay off your debt within a reasonable time frame. In addition, going to a prestigious school doesn’t always equate success, in fact many Rhodes scholars started out at their local state university. Therefore, be realistic in how much debt you are willing to get into when you consider a top reputation school.
4 Years at One School vs. a Stint at a Community
An advantage of attending a community college for your first couple of years at college is that it will save you a lot of money! Community colleges offer transferrable courses at a fraction of the price that you will find at most four year institutions. Another prime advantage is that there is likely a community college in your local town or city so you probably won’t have to re-locate in order to attend college. This is especially helpful if you live with your parents, as you can prolong this likely rent free gig for a couple more years!
There are so many factors to evaluate when you choose a college but hopefully these suggested considerations will help you make the right choice. Just remember to be honest and realistic with yourself in regards to how much money you are willing to take out in loans and to what extent your education choice correlates to your career and lifestyle aspirations.