How Can My Child Go About Choosing a College?
Colleges are located in big cities, suburbs, and small towns throughout the country. Some enroll tens of thousands of students; others enroll only a few hundred. Some are public; others are private. Some private institutions are affiliated with religious institutions; others are not. Some schools enroll only women, others only men.
The type of institution best suited to your child depends on his or her individual needs and talents. Your child can begin focusing on the choice of a college by considering the following questions:
- Why do I want to go to college?
- What do I hope to achieve in college?
- Do I have some idea of what I want to study or for which job I want to prepare?
- Do I want to live at home or go away to school?
- Do I prefer an urban, suburban, or rural environment?
- Would I be happier in a small college or at a large university?
In order to choose a college, you and your child should ask the following questions about the nature and quality of the schools in which your child has an interest. You may also find answers to these questions in the colleges' catalogs or in reference books on colleges. Ask these questions when you meet staff in the admissions office of the colleges.
The Nature of the Education Offered
What is the philosophy of the particular college, and what kinds of educational programs does this college offer?
Ask about the college's specialties, which types of classes the school offers, and in which fields students can earn a degree or certificate. How many students study in each area, and what do they do when they graduate?
How long does it take to earn a certificate or degree at this college?
Students should know how much time it takes to complete a program before they enroll in it. Programs can last anywhere from a few months to several years. Also ask whether the time involved reflects full-time or part-time attendance.
What do students do when they graduate from this school? Do they get jobs in the areas for which they were trained? Do they pursue further education?
Job placement rates are particularly important for vocational programs. If a very low percentage of students are employed in their area of training a year after completing the program, there may be a problem. It can also be useful to ask about beginning salaries of program graduates and the institution's career advising and placement services for its students.
Students who enroll in two-year colleges with plans to transfer to four-year colleges should inquire about the possibility of doing so and about the number of graduates who transfer each year. Students applying to four-year colleges may want to know how many graduates go on to graduate or professional education.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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