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Matching College Characteristics

How do you match up with:

College size (enrollment, gender) -
Would you be comfortable in a college of more than 15,000 or less than 1,000 students? Are diversity and gender balance important to your college decision?

Geographic location, housing & campus life -
Do you prefer an urban or rural environment? Do you want to stay close to home or are you ready for a change? What about climate, recreational options, culture, food and housing?

Method of instruction -
Is a competitive or relaxed learning environment more attractive? What is the best class-size to compliment your learning style?

Length of program -
How long do you want to be in school? Programs may be 1 year, 2 year, 4 year or more.

Cost -
Many college cost options are available. Remember, cost is more than just tuition and fees, it also includes books and supplies, food and housing, transportation and other expenses. College financial aid is based on this "Total Cost of Education.

Narrowing College Options

Request information on programs, admission, financial aid.
Contact prospective colleges as soon as possible. To plan completely for college it is important to start planning at least 9 months before the start of classes. Call the college admission office (Tip - most colleges have free 800 phone numbers) and ask for a new student information packet. Be sure to tell them your possible areas of study and ask for specific information on appropriate programs. Ask for information on college financial aid and scholarships at the same time.

 Arrange a campus visit
There is no substitute for first-hand experience. Make every effort to arrange a campus visit and tour. Visit while classes are in session and ask to sit in on a class. Talk with students on campus, they won't give you a sales pitch. Most colleges offer overnight, weekend and summer visit programs. Call the admission office to arrange your visit. If you cannot visit the campus ask if a video tour is available.

Review choices with professionals in chosen career
You're not in this alone. Talk with peers, family, friends and teachers about your educational plans. Contact people who are already working in your prospective career and ask them what worked for them. Many college alumni groups offer prospective students contact with alumni working in a variety of careers. Contact the alumni office and ask if this is available? Find a mentor who you can talk with on a regular basis.

 Ask about retention and placement
BE SURE to ask every college the following questions:

1. Retention - How many of the students who enroll at your school actually complete a degree. Nationally, about 60% of the college freshman move through to graduation. Persons of color should ask about retention rates for their racial ethnic group.

2. Placement - How many of the graduates from your area of study actually receive job offers in their chosen career? Which companies recruit on campus.

Colleges that cannot answer these questions should be avoided.

Article supplied by College Planning Network.

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