Eeney, Meaney, Miney, Adversity. Wonder Where I’ll Go to University
Currently, a young member of my family is looking at her college options, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart. It’s exciting, scary, and quite possibly, an option my YA may decide to forego. We’ll see, but in the meantime, I’d love to share the journey with other YAs. Maybe you're beginning the search alone. Maybe you're undecided. Whatever your reason, it's important to be apprised of all the facts before you make such a big decision. Because we don’t want to overlook any options, we are moving forward in the big college search and here’s the question uppermost? What do you look for in a prospective college?
I would like to suggest that, IF you decide to go that route, (and it is definitely not the route for everyone,) you may want to keep a few things in mind:
1) Big vs. small
2) Does it have a program in which you are interested?
3) Is that program accredited?
4) Cost – price matters!
5) Housing options
Not all of these things bear the same weight, but let’s look at them just the same, as if they do.
One size does not fit all. Are you a small town person or do you long for life in the big city? Even if you think you’d be more comfortable in a smaller university, you don’t have to exclude larger institutions. If you have interests outside of academics, (and hopefully you do,) you will find that once you involve yourself with clubs and outside activities, even the largest universities become smaller. The more connections you can make with familiar faces, the better. You’re less likely to feel homesick when, all of a sudden, you’re away from hearth and home.
Does the college offer your program of interest?
I would say this is the most important. If the university doesn’t offer the subject that most interests you, why are you going? ‘Cause your friends are going? Do I have to say it? If your friends want to jump off a cliff are you gonna follow? Don’t let your fear of being on your own lead you away from looking out for you – your interests – your pursuit of higher education.
If the career you hope to pursue is at all specialized, requiring professional associations, (i.e., architecture, nursing, education, etc.) it’s REALLY important that you confirm before committing yourself, that the years you spend there will transfer into a certificate or degree that is recognized by the corresponding professional organization. And what is required in one state may not be sufficient in another. Do your homework.
Yep. Cost. Even if you’re not footing the bill, and especially if you are through student loans, you need to do at least a superficial search of salaries of people in your field. Is it really smart money to spend $200,000 to pursue a degree that will leave you qualified for a career that only pays on average $20,000/year? Probably not. In fact, if it’s a career that only pays $20K per year, but it speaks to your bliss, maybe there are other avenues, avenues other than college, for pursuing that career and expanding your knowledge base in your chosen profession. However, if it does speak to your bliss, and there’s no other way to obtain your goal, (which I doubt,) you may want to consider that college regardless, (but really, is there another way?)
A consideration. Can you cut expenses by staying at home? Yes, it is done in some countries. Or can your family afford the investment of purchasing a small property in your new college town and renting out rooms to off-set the costs? Will your folks go for the notion of renting out your room while you’re away as another means of off-setting the costs?
This one is a word problem. If a young adult chooses a college that is a three hour flight from home, how long will it take to 1) cry like a little girl for your mommy and not have her answer the call, 2) get home for Christmas when a blizzard strikes, all flights are booked and you can’t rent a car because you’re under 21, and 3) get home if there is an emergency on the other end? As an adult, I would consider all of those things if I was thinking about re-locating for a job. Consider all of those things because, well, you’re an adult too.
I’ll blog again later about why so many folks are opting NOT to go to college, but for now, for those of you who are hell-bent on going, do it wisely, go for smart reasons … and enjoy the adventure beginning now!