do you want to study?
Do you have a special interest that you want to pursue?
Do you have a hobby that would be a good career choice?
Is your career choice following a family tradition?
Are you undecided on a course of study?
"My grandfather was a pilot. My father is a pilot. I want to be a pilot!" The career choice may be following a loved family tradition and the course of study may parallel that of the parents. The parents then may be the major influence for assisting the student to choose course work. There might be a heritage of teachers, doctors, policemen or firemen in the family.
If you are undecided, seek out people in different professions and talk to them about what they do and what they may have done different. Ask them how they chose and planed for that profession. Volunteer to work at different company offices and organizations to investigate different career opportunities. Be careful about pursuing the current "hot job." When you finish your college career, that hot job may no longer exist. As you go through college, seriously consider obtaining a major in two fields. Not only does two majors add to your versatility but if you tire of one profession or that profession is not all that you thought it would be, you have the background and education to pursue another profession.
The social environment might be a deciding factor for your choice of school. Fraternities? Sororities? Culture? Religion? A small college? Junior college? A large university? Do you want to attend school in a small town, a suburb, or a large city?
Conveniently located schools may be the deciding factor for what school to attend. Choosing a college or university in the city in which you reside is convenient in that you are already familiar with the city and the school. Another deciding factor might be cost, you can live at home, thus not having to worry about money that would be needed for room and board while going to school. A school near home will reduce transportation costs. The tuition, a major cost of college, can be dramatically reduced by attending a community college or an in state college.
very best to go visit the college or university that you want to
attend. Look at the school and the amenities offered by the school but
also check out the city in which the school is located. Your comfort level
with the school you plan to attend is important. The higher your comfort
level, the better you will perform. Colleges and universities are installing
dazzling web pages on the Internet and producing brilliant brochures. Look
at the web pages and collect the brochures but do not allow these to be
the sole criteria for selecting a school to attend. Go visit the school,
set up a schedule to interview administrators and instructors. Plan
your visit at such a time that there will not be a crowd of other visitors
clamoring for interviews and guided tours. Before your visit, inquire with
administration of the school you intend visit to arrange for a student
guided tour of the campus. A real bonus would be to find and talk
to other students that have similar interests and majors. Find out where
the social and academic action is. A short visit to the college is never
enough. Spend time not only on the campus but also in the neighborhood
and city. Learn as much as you can about the area.
Your studies are most important and you must be comfortable with the environment of the campus. Develop a check list of your criteria for college.
Students may be set on attending a very specific college and if that is the case, contact that college's admissions office early in the high school career and stay in contact with the administration of that school. Familiarity with your name and achievements can increase your chances of being accepted by your college of choice. Include in your portfolio all and more that is required by the school.
are the requirements to get into your choice of school(s)?
How are your grades?
What are your scores on the ACT or SAT?
Do you have any special interests or skills?
How is you community service record?
What is important to get into college? GRADES! Your GPA, are you on top? top 10? 10%? 25%? 50%? Perform to the best of your abilities and as your schedule permits, take an honors or AP (advance placement) class or more to improve your GPA and class rank. If several honors classes are on the schedule, developing time management skills is essential to make good grades. Are you having problems in a subject? Go to the instructor for clarification and assistance. Attend tutorials. Most colleges require: 4 English credits, 3 foreign language credits, 3 math credits, 3 laboratory science credits, 3 social studies credits and 1 credit each of art and music. Plan your high school career to do well in these subject areas. Kristi Zona, Assistant Director in the Office of Admissions at Texas Tech University adds, "We look at the students class load during their senior year. During their senior year take math and science classes and dispense the early release programs. We want to see As and Bs in AP classes. We also scrutinize your writing abilities." Elective requirements may be at the college's discretion so contact the schools to which you are applying and find out about their elective preferences.
Almost equally important are your SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACT (American College Testing) scores. A perfect score on the SAT is 1600 and for the ACT, a 36. If you were having a bad day or if you thought you could have made a higher score, you may take the test again. Many students will take the test in their junior or even in their sophomore year just to see what the test is all about. You can take these tests as many times as you want. There are study guides and practice tests available. Tutors can be found to help you prepare for these tests. Karen Thomas, Admissions Counselor from Baylor talks about the SAT and ACT scores. "Our students graduate from high school in the top 50% with SAT scores of at least 1180 and/or ACT scores of 24. We encourage the high school students to take the SAT and ACT again, especially for scholarships. We will accept the highest math score and the highest English score from your tests."
Suppose your grades and SAT or ACT scores just barely miss the cut for the school of your choice. What else do you have to offer? Have you demonstrated leadership abilities? Do you have any special awards, accomplishments or talents? Have something special about you that would cause the school the take another look, an accomplishment or activity that adds to the diversity of the school you want to attend. Schools do not necessarily look for the well rounded student but schools will look for the unique student to add to the school's well rounded and diversified campus population. Trying to become a "jack of all trades" to impress admissions officers could backfire on you. Do not try to impress a college or university with quantity, impress them with quality.
Throughout your high school career, establish a portfolio for your accomplishments, achievements and activities. Keep your report cards in the portfolio. Keep all letters of recommendation and certificates of achievement that you have received in your portfolio. Keep a list of any awards or trophies that you have won. Keep notes on the clubs or organizations and your accomplishments in those clubs and organizations in your portfolio. All of these items will be useful as you prepare to fill out the college applications. Demonstrate planning and organization during the application process. Trey Findlay, Admissions Counselor from Schreiner University tells, "We place emphasis on the interview rather than the application process. We are interested in who you are an why you want to attend Shreiner University. We look for the individual rather than just another face in the crowd. How a person presents themselves is important to us. This also involves the person knowing themselves at a deeper level rather than just knowing what they are superficially interested in." During interviews with admission officers, have your list of questions ready and be prepared to write down the answers.
As you pursue extra curricular
activities, it is best to have just a couple and pursue those with vigor.
Admissions officers look at applicants a bit less favorably when the student
tries to do everything and list such on the application. It is best to
do less better than to do more less effectively. Try several activities
that you may be interested in then chose one or two to excel passionately
in. Look for ideas and see what is offered at your high school and in your
community. Check your student handbook to see what is happening around
your campus. Jessica Krenik, Admissions Counselor
at Trinity University
tells students to, "Get
involved in school and community activities, show leadership qualities,"
Money for higher education is available, plan, look for and apply for the various scholarships. Reports circulate that some grants and scholarships go unclaimed because no one applied for them! In Texas, ask your high school counselor about the Texas Grant Program. More links for financial assistance are listed below.
Upromiss plans - I am still studing this issue, when I have all my facts, I will present the advantages and disadvantages here.
About student loans - Use student loans with caution. Students have graduated from college with upwards of thirty to forty thousand dollars or more in student loans. These loans must be paid back, the loans are not forgiven. Consider what your income will be when you graduate from college. Do the math and determine your ability to repay the loan. In addition to your loan payment, take into consideration the rest of your living expenses, monthly expenditures would include your rent, car payments, insurance, and other monthly bills.
Most all colleges and universities offer on campus housing but look at the alternatives. Renting off campus apartments or houses may be more expensive than campus housing, may cost about the same as campus housing, or might be considerable cheaper than living on campus. Check with local real estate companies and apartment rental services. Check with College Park Communities for off campus housing. facilities
Here is a cool option to consider for room and board. Parents, buy a house for your offspring to live in while attending college. Have your offspring round up two or three reliable and responsible roommates. Charge the roommates just enough rent to pay the house note. When the offspring graduates, sell the house for a profit. [author's note - This idea came from a friend of mine. He did exactly that while his daughter was attending vet school at Texas A&M. When she graduated, he sold the house for a $12000 profit. He never had to make a payment out of his pocket and it was a nice tax write off!]
ACT - American College Testing
SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test
College Board - Scholarship and Grants for good students
College Funding Solutions
College Savings Plan Network's Page - State college saving plans BUT use with caution!
FAFSA on the Web - U. S. Department of Education, free application for federal student aid
Fastweb Scholarship Search
Federal Student Aid Help
Financial Aid Information Page
Financial Aid Supersite - Truth, opinions, sources about finacial aid
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
Office of Post secondary Education - Contains facts on every kind of federal student loan
Sallie Mae - Provides financial help
Texas Grant Program