Go visit the college
Visit them and talk to the students currently enrolled there to find out exactly what its like.
If the college you are interested in has a sleeping bag weekend, where you can stay over for a night. Absoluely do it. Eat at the cafeteria, and goto the events planned for you. However, keep in mind that the number of events on campus is inflated, just becuase you are there. Try not to worry about tuition too much, if there are any problems, always go and talk to the councellor they can help. If you are fine with it, try to get a part time job 1 or 2 hrs a week. An extra $20 a week means you won' t have problems worrying about that trip to the movie theater, that special night out away from campus, or that shirt in the mall. Please, please join some student organization on campus, and goto the events planned for you by your fellow students. You most likely are already paying for them through some student activity fee. And finally, at all costs, have fun. You should be enjoying your time.
The one that gives you the best financial package may not be the best; they are probably desperate.
Know what you want
If anything at all, do not believe what the faculty of the school tell you is avaliable to the students. Lies are how they sell the school. The work load here at Steven's is not even close to being able to be completed on a steady manner. Everything is rushed and not done correctly due to time constraints. I am not only saying this about my school but also any other school. I transferred to Steven's because I was unhappy with my first choice (too easy). I came here and was shocked of how different it was. Adjusting was easy but the work load was overwhelming. The food at most schools is sub par as well. So when they tell you it is great, there they go with the lies again. Off-campus food Is much better and agrees with your stomach as well. You have to let your child make their own choice. They are not going for you but rather should be going for themselves. I picked a challenging major (chemical Engineering) and I am happy with what I chose. Let your child find themselves. The school only shapes them.
You should absolutely visit the college more than once and try to attend a class or two to see how the teachers act and respond to student's questions as well as how they teach the class. Speak with students that currently go there to find out about the social aspect as well as the courseload and the difficulty to balance between the two. If planning to commute, make sure the parking situation is handled properly and you are guarenteed a spot. Make sure the college has the major you are considering and the career development office works with all students to get a job, not just certain majors and the school has a good record of landing students a job with a rate of at least 95%.
Always visit the school so the student knows they will feel comfortable on campus. Also never rule out a school because of the price. There is tons of finacial aid out there for everyone.
Visit the school and look for the programs that you would be interested in.
My advice is that most people only go to college once, so try to attend the school that you really want to go to. Try to find a school which specializes in your area of study so when you try to get a job, your resume goes to the top of the pile. In order to make the most of your own college experience, you need to study and do homework in order to keep your grades up while staying involved with what is going on around campus.
Finding the right college is never easy, however if you know what you really want to do in your life it will always give you a head start. If you know your major then you can look at all the specific colleges that has great programs available for your major, which will narrow down the number of colleges for you and your family to focus on. From there you can create a chart to compare the schools by things that you and your family consider to be important factors in determine the right college. By comparing this narrowed down list of schools to each other, you and your family can further narrow down the possibilities and focus more on the few schools that interest you. From this point on you should determine which school is your top, secondary and safety choices. Once you do, apply to these schools and wait for their reply. If you are accepted to all the schools great, if not, don't worry since your secondary schools might just fit you better. Now that you are accepted to the schools that interest you, you can now chose the best school to attend through affordability and distance.
Visit as many colleges as you can prior to filling out applications. This is a good way to get a feel for each college, and helps you decide what kind of copllege atmosphere you like the most (big or small, historical or new, urban or rural, ect.). Also make sure that the colleges you choose to apply to have all the things that you want, including sports or sports facilities, extracurricular activities, and such. Once you are at college, do'nt be afraid to get involved in clubs and organizations, whether you like them or not, because you may find that there are things you enjoy that you never knew existed. Also, don't be afraid to take out loans if you need to - if you go into a loan feeling stressed, it will affect your attitude as well as your academic performance. Realize that some things just have to be done, and don't stress about it.
If you aren't entirely sure about what you want to major in, you should attend a larger school with a large variety of majors. My college has no liberal arts majors, just engineering, physical sciences, and business, so if I wanted to switch to a philosophy major or something in foreign languages, I wouldn't have that opportunity. On the other hand, if you know what you want to do and what your goals are after your undergraduate schooling, it will be easy to choose a school for one specific department or major with an excellent reputation!
Stay a weekend at the college. That way, your parents aren't around and the students can really tell you what they think about the place.
Contrary to the typical student, try not to get consumed by the college environment in the beginning, rather work as hard as you can for your freshman and sophomore year so that junior and senior year can be about balance and not catching up or trying to raise a GPA that should have been easily maintained. As you progress in your college career you will be able to balance the play with work and you will find that you will be able to enjoy yourself much more then being stressed with GPA/class concerns.
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