Friday, April 20, 2018

Choosing a college, university or career school by Sue Hatfield

Investing in a college education or career training can lead to opportunity and success in a
competitive economy that is increasingly knowledge-based and global. If an individual has been offered admission to more than one institution, it can be challenging to make a choice. Making an informed decision involves comparing institutions on factors that enhance the student’s academic, financial and social “fit”.

Factors to be considered by prospective students and parents in choosing a college, university or career school include the following:

Total cost
Scholarships and financial aid
School rankings
Distance from home
Campus size and setting
On-campus housing options
Available majors
Work-study options
Student services
Student body
Available athletic and extra-curricular activities

Graduation data: Admission offices should provide current information on the percentage of students who graduate with a degree or earn a certificate of completion, and how long, on average, it takes them to complete their programs of study.

Return on investment (ROI): When choosing a school and possible field of study, students should consider the institution’s reputation and the popularity of various majors, as well as their career goals and predicted future earnings.

There are many institutional matches for every prospective student. Individuals should keep their needs, preferences, and goals in mind to arrive at a good post-secondary school choice. Admissions reps, faculty members, and/or current college/career school students are available to answer questions in order to help the prospective student make an informed decision.

May 1 is National College Decision Day. This date is considered the deadline for all high school students to choose the institution that they plan to attend. The student must send the required deposit and official notice that s/he intends to attend a single college that has offered admission. The school will expect to receive these or have them postmarked before/by May 1 for the student to secure a seat for fall. (Check school policy concerning the firm deadline.)

If a senior has been placed on a waitlist(s), there are important factors to consider.

Seat security: The student should send a deposit and his/her decision to attend a single school that has offered admission by May 1 in order to secure a seat in the fall. Note: If the student is admitted off a waitlist and chooses to attend that institution instead of the one where the deposit was made, s/he will usually forfeit the deposit made to the first school.

Cost: Some institutions may have already awarded most of their scholarships and financial aid by the time the waitlisted student is offered admission.


Sue Hatfield is a certified school counselor who worked in Maine high schools for twenty years before her retirement.

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