Choosing a college might be the most important decision a teenager can make. Where you enroll can determine your career, your income potential, and even where you live. Picking a school that matches your interests and preferences is a major step toward reaching your goals in life — which is why it’s a good idea for high school students to answer these three questions in order to find the right college for them.
What are my goals?
College is a major step in achieving your career goals. Many colleges specialize in certain fields like nursing, international studies, or business.
If you know your career ambitions, investigating schools that have strong academics in your field of interest is definitely worthwhile. If you are less certain as to what you’d like to do, there are still numerous colleges that offer benefits such as an athletics program or diverse majors and courses.
Choosing the right college can help you achieve goals beyond academics. A common goal among undergraduate students is to land a good internship. This is also very important to consider when choosing a school, because internship opportunities vary between colleges — and some higher education institutions don’t even require them. Another goal may be to join an extracurricular club or sports team, either intramural or official. Keeping your goals in mind when choosing a college is instrumental to ensuring you’ll be able to achieve them.
Do I want to study abroad?
Many colleges provide opportunities for their students to study abroad, especially as more students are becoming interested in pursuing International Studies. The opportunities to participate in study-abroad programs vary among different schools, so it’s important to investigate this question. Many study-abroad plans differ academically. Some programs include heavy workloads while you are overseas, while others may allow for extended leisure and travel throughout the semester. It’s also important to research whether the classes, teachers, and curriculum in the program are high quality with real-world training and will help you reach your goals.
Finding the right study-abroad program will produce a valuable experience for you. Many colleges offer programs that make them more affordable, too, such as Envision Trek Year or Global Bridge. Finally, another great step to take is to talk to people who have previously studied abroad with each college you are considering. No source of research will be more valuable than the testimony of a person who’s already completed a study-abroad program.
How much do I want to pay for college?
This is a question that is often overlooked in the college decision process. It’s important to be realistic about the costs associated with each college so you do not wind up with significant college debt. Begin budgeting for your education by determining how much money you are able to spend on college, and how much money each potential choice will cost you.
It’s also worth exploring scholarships, various financial aid opportunities, and the student loans available to you to help you pay off the frequently heavy expenses of college. Additionally, there are many scholarships you may be eligible for that you may not know about. Investigating these options can help you save money and plan for the future. Thinking about these numbers is a pain, but it will help ensure achieving all of your goals and becoming financially stable upon graduation.