By, Stasie Tillman
The sun and warm weather are finally here! For high school seniors, this is the time of year when college acceptance letters roll in. Once the jubilation from being accepted is over, its time for them to make a major life decision! Students are expected to know how to choose a college?
Here are a few things to consider before making one of the toughest decisions facing high school seniors and that’s how to choose the right college?
What to Consider When Choosing the Right College?
Parties! See, I knew what you were thinking! Students get distracted thinking that the best route for college is to go to the well-known party school. The one with lots of fun activities, live concerts, and fraternal ties is sure to make it easy to adjust to a school full of new people in a different town.
That’s a small and sometimes unimportant factor. The real decision-making factors are things like;
- Degrees Offered: How well the college handles your specific degree?
- Extracurricular: What clubs & groups does the college offer?
- Career development: Is the school known for assisting their graduates in getting a job?
- Costs: Known components (tuition, room & board, meal plans, degree costs) and Unknown components (Extracurricular club costs, events, costs of living in that college town whether city or suburb).
To provide a clear perspective on the purpose of college, think of it this way. College is a means to an end. It helps you to develop the skills and education you need to secure the job you want. You want to get a good return on your investment (ROI). College ROI is the best guide for how to choose a college.
So Many Colleges: How to Choose a College?
Are you solely looking at the colleges with the well-known names? Or maybe you’re gravitating to big schools? Don’t be herded like sheep into paying large tuitions, when a smaller (or less well-known) school can meet your requirements at half the costs.
This is where most high school students fall into the trap. Their lists contain only colleges that their small circles of friends and family have heard of, or that their friends plan to attend. I get it. No one wants to leave their comfort zone and head to a new town with a bunch of new people.
Make your list of college considerations robust and diverse. Include colleges with costs, demographics, and locations that are from a diverse range.
Are Student Loans Inevitable for College Students?
It took a few decades for the skyrocketing cost of college to become an open and honest discussion both in homes and in the media. Now that it is a known plague, students and parents alike need to be wise in choosing the right college to meet the degree and social needs of the student without breaking the bank.
The most recent Federal Reserve study shows a continued increase in the number of students that take out student loan debt to finance their bachelor’s degree.“53 percent of those who completed at least a bachelor’s degree acquired at least some debt in the process.” A slight increase in comparison to years past but a consistent progression upward when comparing year over year statistics.
Although the practice of acquiring student loan debt is fast becoming the norm, you need not become a statistic. Take a thorough look at the numbers early and often.
Be willing to have the tough conversations with your parents to determine what financial support, if any, they can give towards your college education. And plan to pay for or finance the remaining costs on your own.
What Does Student Loan Debt Really Add Up to?
According to the Federal Reserve Economic Research study, the outstanding student loan balance went from $480.967 billion in 2006 to $1,490.8122 billion at the end of 2017. The most recent information noted that borrowers graduated with an average of $37,172 in outstanding student loan debt.
Students mistakenly think, hey that’s no big deal. I know a few people that graduated with $100,000 in debt. Or they may even think that a $30,000 balance will be easy to pay off.
Realize it costs us more in owing that much instead of having that as cash. “With that money, borrowers could put a down payment on a home, purchase a new car or bootstrap their own business,” notes this CNBC article on college ROI.
It costs us more in interest and missed opportunities to carry such a large debt balance. Keep this in mind when deciding how to choose a college and you’re sure to make the right decision.
Does ROI Matter When Choosing a College?
It certainly does! College is one of the first major investments young people make. You want that investment to pay for itself by qualifying you for higher salaries than a person without a degree.
Investing in your education makes you a more viable candidate in our world’s ever increasingly competitive job market. The questions are how much can you realistically invest and what is the return on that investment?
However, keep in mind that there are colleges that are for-profit like a business. Can you justify the high tuition costs of one college to another of similar characteristics? As long as it meets your degree requirements and has a good track record, it should do the trick.
It’s wise to limit the debt you acquire during college. The sky is the limit from there!
Take time to look at the numbers, and seek counsel from advisors, teachers, and your parents. Then trust your gut along with that wisdom and you’ll make a great choice! Comment below and share what helped you decide how to choose a college?