Getting Into College Made Easy: Four Critical Questions to Ask

Barry Lenson

Getting Into College Made Easy: Four Critical Questions to Ask

Four Critical Questions to Ask CollegesGoing to the wrong college can be more than disappointing. I can cost you a fortune too.

Here are some comments that prove that point from StudentsReview.com, a website where students review hundreds of American colleges . . .

  • “Do not go here! My one friend here just graduated in the top ten and cannot get a job! [Employers] always say they are sorry but they don't trust the school’s credentials.”
  • “Tens of thousands of dollars in debt and I doubt my professors read my [papers].”
  • “This place is definitely not worth your parents' 45K/year . . . The resources here are average at best. The labs are small and clearly cannot accommodate the growing number of science students each year . . . The dorms are pitiful: small, dark, and poorly kept . . . Our medical center doesn't have a doctor on staff.”

If you want to avoid problems like those, it can help to ask questions like these before you select colleges or decide to attend them . . .

  • Am I comfortable at the place? When students are unhappy at school, it’s often because their personalities are different from those of the students around them. That’s why it is critically important to visit classes, talk to students on campus, or sleep in a dormitory overnight if you are accepted. If you don’t feel at home, you probably won’t be happy at the school – even if it has the biggest name or the strongest reputation.
  • Can I transfer if things don’t work out?  Even though U.S. News compiles statistics about college transfers, definitive figures are hard to come by. If you’re thinking of attending the University of Michigan, for example, how hard is it to transfer out? To find out, post queries on campus blogs or ask students during your campus tours. Sobering: Some colleges, we hear, actually try to keep students’ grades low during their freshman year so that it will be more difficult for them to transfer to other institutions.
  • Does the college have the facilities I need? Generally, the buildings that colleges show you during campus tours are the newest and flashiest, or the oldest and most historic. But if you think you might be a majoring in, say, computer game design, be sure to take a close look at the computer facilities. The time to learn about so-so facilities is before you enter a school, not after.
  • What are my fallback options if my major doesn’t work out?  We know one student who went to a small college that had a world-class dance program. But when she decided not to major in dance during her sophomore year, there was not much else that the school could offer her, so she had to transfer out.  That is one reason why it can be wise to gravitate toward larger institutions if you are not certain of your major.

Remember that online college courses let you test out college courses and majors before you arrive on campus. That’s why more students today are using them to reduce the cost of picking the wrong college or major.

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