You’ve heard a lot about the college search — maybe in a high school presentation about financial aid and college majors, or maybe from a college student walking backwards who talked about meal plans and campus traditions.
These topics, while important to discuss with your parents, leave out a crucial ingredient in college success. So what are the biggest topics that seniors forget to discuss with the people around them?
1. Return on Investment
College is an investment — and a big one at that — so it’s important to choose a school that will set you up for success.
Say you have a choice between School A, which is willing to give you a whopping ton in scholarships, or School B, which is not. You should choose School A, right? Not necessarily.
On a second look, you notice School B has a 90% graduation rate, a great reputation and an award-winning internship program. At School A, on the other hand, not even a third of students graduate in 4 years. School B will make it easy to get your dream job after graduation, and the money you’ll make will offset those tuition costs. School A, however, may make it difficult to even get a degree.
Bottom line, don’t choose the school with the lowest costs today; choose the school that will be worth the most upon graduation.
In all fairness though, return on investment can be difficult to calculate. After all, it’s hard to predict your post-college success, but here are a few topics to help find schools with great returns on investment and filter out the ones that may cost you.
Consider who you will be going to school with. Your classmates will be your friends and support while you study your heart out, and they’ll be your professional connections after you graduate. The best peers are ones who encourage academic strengths and discourage your bad habits. Talk to your parents to figure out what these strengths and weaknesses are and to figure out what kind of student you’d be wise to hang around with.
3. Proximity…but not the kind you’re thinking of!
I know, I know, your parents don’t want you to be too far from home, but this isn’t the only kind of proximity you should be thinking about.
Proximity to employers, research institutions and important people may be much more important. Marine biologists need access to water; artists need access to inspiring museums and views; physical anthropologists need access to archaeological sites; political scientists need access to governments. Even if your major doesn’t require a specific location, think about how much you could benefit from proximity to great libraries, other colleges or successful people.
What points of interest are most important to you? Don’t know? Ask your parents for advice.
4. Graduation Rates
I mentioned graduation rates earlier, but it’s worth repeating. A school may seem like a bargain on paper, but when most students take 5 or 6 years to graduate (or don’t graduate at all), it may end up being much more costly. Even if the school seems cheap enough to take your chances, think about the wages you might forgo during your extra semesters of school.
5. Unique Programs and Residential Colleges
Some schools offer leadership programs, and special “schools within schools” help students who are serious about a subject delve deeper. They help to speed up the networking process by meeting other serious students, noteworthy people within your field of study and even study abroad!
While admission rates and tuition costs are two of the biggest factors when picking out a college, these under-the-radar considerations play a big role too. Think about three schools you are interested in applying for and ask yourself how these above mentioned points come into play. Even though applications aren’t due for a few months, it’s time to start narrowing your focus on potential schools.
What else should high school students discuss with their parents and friends? Leave it in the comments!