Things To Consider When Choosing College

In trying to decide what type of college will best meet your wants and needs there are many things to consider. Listed below are some of the factors you will need to consider in deciding where you want to go to college.

Type of institution- Private or Public. College or University. Church sponsored.

Colleges can be either public or private. Public colleges are those that are supported by the state in which they are located. Many highly ranked colleges in the United States are state-supported institutions. These colleges can often provide an excellent education at a price for an in-state resident that is much less than comparable private colleges. At the early stages of your investigation, I would encourage you to consider both private and public colleges.

While private colleges frequently cost more than comparable state institutions, they often have the financial means to offer generous need-based or scholarship-based financial aid. This aid can make the cost of a private college the same or less than attending your state college.

Many of the more selective private universities and colleges have a religious affiliation. The extent of spiritual influence varies. But at the beginning of your college search, we strongly encourage you to investigate all private colleges, regardless of religious affiliation.

Academics- What courses and majors are you looking for

The most important reason for going to college is to get an education. The type of academic atmosphere and variety of courses studied is an important factor to be considered when choosing a college. Be careful, however, of choosing a college based solely on it having a particular major or field of study. Research shows that 90% of all college graduates do not major in the field of study they originally had intended. This happens for several reasons.

First, most colleges have majors in subjects you have never before studied such as political science or anthropology. Second, as you gain experience and maturity in college, your interests may change. Take time to explore your options and be realistic about your talents. Be sure to pursue a course of study that is of genuine interest to you, not just one you think might lead to a good career.

If you do have a strong interest in a particular area, such as science, it is important to evaluate a college’s facilities and offerings in those areas to make sure they have adequate resources. Remember that many smaller colleges may not offer majors in certain professional fields, such as engineering, business, or physical therapy. If you are certain of a specific field of study, be sure that the colleges and universities you are considering offer that major.

Don’t exclude a smaller college, however, simply because you think the resources may be inadequate. Remember that all of the resources of a college are available to its undergraduate students whereas at a large university, many of the specialized equipment might be reserved for graduate students only. Some of the largest producers of PhD’s in this country are small colleges.

Atmosphere- Liberal, conservative or something in between

Each college has a particular “feel”. Many factors go into creating the feel of that college’s including the responsibility the administration of the college allows the students, the competitiveness of the students with each other and the students involvement in social concerns.

Every campus will have a different feel. What is important is to determine if the campus atmosphere will be comfortable for you as a person. The best advice regarding student life is to look for an intellectual and social climate in which you will feel comfortable and challenged.

There is no substitute to visiting the college to discovery how any college feels. By talking to students, professors and administration on a campus, students can gain a better feel for that college’s culture. Also, look around as you are on the campus. What activities are putting posters up, and what are people talking about? These are just a few of the issues to look at in understanding the feel of each college

Student body and gender- Co-ed college or single sex

While most campuses now are coed there are still some all women colleges available for students to consider. The women’s colleges can be an excellent choice for the right student as they often offer not only strong academics but also strong support for women that might be lacking in similar coed colleges. And lest you fear that you will be living in a convent, almost all women’s colleges now have some sort of relationship with coed schools so men will be around even in an all women’s college.

Setting- Where do you want to live

The physical environment of the college may be very important to you. Some people prefer the variety of activities offered by a large city. However, a large city requires certain adjustments that not everyone will be comfortable with. For instance, an inner city college will often not have the classic college campus look. Rather, it will consist of high rise classes rooms and dorms.

Others want to go to college in a more rural setting. These more rural campuses will often have the classic ivy covered buildings with beautiful scenery in all directions. But the excitement of a large city will be missing from such a campus and for those students seeking big time athletics or popular concert venues may not be comfortable in such a setting. The decision of a location and campus setting comes down to the question of where you would like to spend the next four years living.

Size- Large university or small college

The following are generalizations, so if some of these areas are of concern, ask questions at the colleges you are considering:

A large university (15,000-50,000+ students) may offer a variety of academic opportunities including elaborate facilities and large libraries, as well as the stimulation of a large faculty, graduate students and undergraduates. However, housing may be more difficult to obtain, more courses may be taught by graduate students, lecture sessions may be very large, and opportunities for leadership in campus organizations may be diminished.

A medium-sized university (5,000-15,000 students) may offer fewer majors and more modest facilities than a large university, but also may offer greater opportunities to participate in the activities of your choice.

Small colleges (under 5,000 students) usually offer smaller classes, earlier opportunities to take classes with well-known professors, and more chances for participation and leadership in campus activities. However, facilities and classes may be limited and options for activities and diversity reduced.

Location- Where do you want to spend the next 4 years

When considering the possible locations of your future colleges, consider questions such as:

How important is it for me to attend college close to home?

How much do I value attending college with students of different geographic backgrounds?

How frequently do I anticipate going home during the academic year?

How extensively does the weather affect my studies or quality of life?

Consider whether you would prefer a geographically diverse student body, or a regional community of students from more homogeneous backgrounds.

Campus life- What happens on campus when people aren’t in class

Whether you enjoy your college years will often depend on the experience of living on a college campus. Learning in college comes not only from your class work but also through interacting with your college friends, extracurricular activities, and just hanging out in the dorm. Here are some factors that can affect your college experience.

Housing Living on-campus for the first few years of their college experience is important for many students. Dormitories can become a focus of college campus life and the easiest way to meet new friends. If it is an important consideration for you, remember to ask any college in which you are interested about the availability of on-campus housing for all four years. Some colleges only have enough housing for the first year or two of the college experience.

Extracurricular activities The extracurricular activities you engage in are not only fun but can be part of your learning experience. Look at the view books of the colleges to see what activities are available. Talk to people at the colleges you are considering to find out what activities are popular on that campus. Many colleges have 100 or more groups for students with a variety of interests. Also ask about how easy it is to start a new group if you have a particular interest not currently represented on the campus.

Fraternities and Sororities The presence of a Greek system can have a dramatic effect on campus life. Ask people on campus about how the fraternities and sororities affect the social life of any college in which you are interested. Do they dominate the social scene or is it spread between many different groups? Can anyone go to a Greek party or are the limited only to certain students?

Campus Employment Many students will hold a part-time job on or off campus while enrolled full time in college. Talk to current students about the availability of jobs and what types of jobs students typically get. With budget cutbacks, some colleges are starting to limit the number of jobs available to students on campus. If you need to have a job but have to seek one off campus, think about the time involved in getting to such a job and the additional costs of transportation.

Athletics- Are big time athletics important to you.

Many students who engage in high college athletics may want to continue to play that sport in college. College students participate at three levels: intramural, club, and intercollegiate. Intramural play is most common. Intramurals allow students to compete at a variety of different levels of competition with a primary emphasis on enjoying the sport for personal fitness, relaxation, and fun. Club sport teams are usually jointly sponsored by students and the college, and may compete against other colleges’ club teams.

Intercollegiate athletics is the university equivalent of varsity-level sports. These programs are categorized by the NCAA into three divisions of varying degrees of competition: Division I, Division II, and Division III.

Selectivity- How hard is it to get into a college.

Your academic performance in a challenging, rigorous program of study is the most important factor in determining your admissibility to colleges. Admission committees value a consistent level of achievement over four years, but they also give strong weight to students who demonstrate significant improvement over the course of their academic career. While your grades are the most obvious indication of potential future success, colleges also want to see that students have challenged themselves in a competitive, demanding academic program throughout their entire high college career. The more honor and AP courses you are able to take successfully, the stronger candidate you will be. Does that mean that you should take AP courses even if the material if too difficult for you? No. But most admission committees will give more weight to a B in an AP course than an A in a much simpler course.

Standardized testing also plays a critical role in admissions. Virtually all colleges will accept either the SAT I or the ACT. Many of the highly selective colleges also require or recommend SAT II subject test. The most important thing to keep in mind for each of the colleges you are considering is their ‘middle 50%’ range of testing. While a quarter of admitted students have scores either above or below this test range, such a median range will give a general indication of the strength of the applicant pool and how you compare.

After looking at your academic performance and your test scores, most selective colleges will then look at subjective factors such as your recommendations, your essays and your extracurricular activities. The amount of weight given to these subjective factors varies from college to college.

Financial aid- If I do get in, how am I going to pay for the college.

Financial aid may consist of grants or scholarships, loans and work study. Grants and scholarships are money that does not need to be repaid while loans need to be repaid. Work study is generally a job offered on the campus of the college offering the financial aid although it may also be a job off campus.

There are two basic types of financial aid; need based aid and merit based aid. Need based aid is given by all colleges to students who have need. Anyone who can’t pay the full cost of the college has need.

A form called the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) determines the amount of need for federal grants and scholarships. Many highly selective colleges also require a form known as the Profile form The FAFSA form is filled out after January 1 of the year the student will first attend college.

Merit-based aid includes scholarships typically for students who have good grades or have some other special talent such as athletic or musical talent. Most highly selective colleges offer little or no merit-based aid.

In looking at colleges you should ignore the cost of the college. Yes, you read that right. Ignore the stated cost of the college when you are first deciding which colleges to investigate further. Many of the most expensive private colleges meet 100% of the students need while cheaper public colleges usually meet less than 100% of the need. This means that for many students it can be cheaper to go to an expensive private college than to attend a cheaper state school. Until you know what percent of need the college meets, don’t eliminate a college from consideration just because it is expensive.

Benefit Sport Scholarship

How Much Spare Change Will You Need?

The average cost of college tuition today with room and board is about $25,000 annually at an in-state public university and around $40,000 annually at a private school not including the purchases of books, fees, and spending money, let alone airfare if your student athlete is out of state.The price tag for a college education increased 53% for public schools and 47% for private above inflation between 1994 and 2004. This college tuition cost is not going to get less! Are college sports scholarships something to think about for your future college athlete? Might these scholarships provide a little spare education change?

That is what we were facing five years ago with a high school senior who decided to play college basketball very late. But our daughter was not the elite athlete; in fact, her high school coach considered her a D-III athlete at best, possibly D-II if she stretched. We had not even thought about college sports scholarships because no coach was knocking on her door! And, in fact, today, universities and colleges have reduced the recruiting budgets for college coaches; they cannot personally recruit as many potential college athletes as before. If you are the parent of a student athlete who is not the top superstar, then it is likely you and your student athlete will have to search for sports scholarships yourselves. Your prospective college athlete will have to do his or her own recruiting to help reduce the high price of college tuition today.

Who Gets to Play?

In our research to figure out how we would find her a college sports scholarship and reduce that tuition bill, we found out that about 5% of high school athletes go on to play college sports. We also discovered there are sports scholarships beyond the “usual suspects” of football, basketball, baseball and volleyball, and not just in the NCAA! And, we learned that high school student athletes can find academic scholarships at great D-III schools that have highly competitive sports programs.

We did not want our daughter to be one of the student athletes in the 95% category that do not get to be a college athlete! She had the desire, the work ethic, and the talent. We developed a process to help her and she received a walk-on offer at a Big East D-I University in Chicago, two D-III academic scholarships, and, eventually, a D-I scholarship at a West Coast Conference school.

What we found in our research, online and personal ~ talking with college coaches, high school counselors, athletic directors and other parents ~ was that most of the emphasis is on the elite future college athlete, the one coaches actively recruit. There seems to be less effort put into those athletes who are talented, but are not maybe the superstars. These may be young athletes who are not the starters on their high school teams, suffered injuries or are late bloomers. We also saw other high school athletes whom we came across that either did not know how to begin their search for an athletic scholarship (D-I and D-II) or the academic scholarship at D-III. Or, their parents were really not knowledgeable about the world of college athletics.

College Athletics — Play to Earn an Education!

And, what we found is that there was a lot of information about the athletic scholarships, but not much about how to find a solid academic program along with that athletic scholarship. Most college athletes do not go on to play in the pros, so the object of the athletic scholarship is to help the student athlete continue to play his or her sport while also earning a college education. And, we happen to think that is still very valuable. Universities and colleges are beginning to recognize the end game — getting a good education to prepare for the “game” of life. Even the NCAA is increasingly looking at the student in the word student athlete.

I came across a recent article in a national magazine that basically was saying athletic scholarships are not all that they are cracked up to be. The author stated that the average college scholarship is about $10,000 and, if you extract the men’s sports, that scholarship reduces to $8,000; the only full scholarships are for football, basketball and volleyball. The author also stated that there is no such thing as a four-year athletic scholarship and coaches can pull scholarships for a variety of factors. True enough; scholarships are given for only one year and most sports scholarships are partial, with colleges and parents piecing together the puzzle with loans and other financial aid packages. It was a rather doom and gloom article. We have a little different view. When our daughter received offers of two approximately $12,000 academic scholarships to two D-III schools where she would have played basketball, that was $12,000 off of a $33,000 tuition bill. I don’t know about you, but I will take that any day!

Caveat Emptor! Like Anything Else — Do Your Homework and Use Common Sense!

Although the world of college athletics is not for the faint of heart and there are certainly unscrupulous programs and coaches, if one uses common sense and goes into this college search process with eyes open and a realistic picture of the level of talent, the search for a college sports scholarship, given an effective plan and process, should produce some good results. We were neophytes when we started this effort on behalf of our daughter, but we have to say the coaches with whom we talked and met were straight shooters and gave us honest answers to all of our inquiries. And, yes, we know of student athletes who have not been treated very well, with scholarships yanked because coaches were changed or the school wanted to go in a different direction. But, we also know of student athletes who were able to stay all four years at a college and play for most of those years and gain a good solid education, something they might not have had if that athletic scholarship had not at least reduced some of the college bill.

We would encourage the student athletes out there or the parents of student athletes to take a look at college sports scholarships (or academic scholarships at D-III schools) as a way to pay part of that ever increasing college tuition bill. And, the college athletic search will take you beyond the NCAA, to the NAIA, NCCAA, NJCAA, or other community college associations and will provide a much greater choice of academic programs available. There are great colleges and universities out there of all shapes and sizes to fit the interests of the potential college athlete. The key is just to start and do not listen to all the naysayers. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

Keep Playing! Athletics Scholarship Search System grew out of our efforts to help our daughter, a high school basketball varsity player become a college athlete getting offers as a Walk-on at a D-I Big East School, 2 D-III Academic Scholarships, and finally a D-I Scholarship at a West Coast Conference School. While I knew the game of basketball, my wife and I knew little about the world of college athletic recruiting.

And, what we could see was that most of the effort on the Internet was focused on the elite, D-I athlete. There wasn’t a great deal of information for students at the D-II level, or looking at D-III schools. We were also given a lot of poor information, such as don’t ever call the coaches! Glad we didn’t listen to that advice! And, we saw nothing that helped our daughter match her athletic interests with her academic interests. After all, the education is the point! Most college athletes don’t go on to the pros. The goal with an athletic scholarship should be a solid educational foundation.

We have developed a clear, easy to use system to help the student athlete and the parents navigate the college athletic scholarship world. We also provide helpful resources, forms for collecting and tracking information, as well as a way for parents to help their student athletes get an objective assessment of their talent, and know how to support their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Keep Playing! Athletics Scholarship System is a six-step, effective turn-key process to find a solid college athletic program, a sports scholarship and a good academic program. This system will help you do your own college recruiting and find a college sports scholarship!