With the college application seasoning quickly drawing to a close, it pays to re-evaluate what we seniors are doing. As we’ve been told countless times, our decisions now have an incredible impact on our future. For many of us, that means that we have to be very careful in picking the college that we enroll in. Our choice determines what we will be doing for the next four years, and possibly for many years afterward.
Many factors go into our college lists. Perhaps the most prominent issue is money. For most of us, the price of a college education is nothing to joke about. This year, the estimated cost of going to school at UC Irvine is $29,814 per year, according to the College Board. For the private schools, the price tag can be even bigger, such as USC’s $59,883 yearly. Even with student loans and financial aid, these numbers remain very high. For many students, the money issue has narrowed down their choices to Junior Colleges like OCC and Golden West. They would rather transfer to a university after two years of general education than pay off thousands of dollars in student loans.
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Ignoring the issue of money, however, the reasons for choosing different schools are much more diverse. For students with a good idea of their career goals, whether or not a certain college offers their prospective major is a major consideration. California’s UC system is popular in part because the schools offer a wide variety of educational programs, in areas such as social sciences, engineering, and business. In my case, I intend to pursue a scientific degree of some sort. Therefore, all the schools that I am applying to have strong science programs.
For a smaller group of students, a school’s location is important to consider. While the majority of us are perfectly happy to go to school in California, some students are setting their sights on colleges in other places. A few of the more faraway locations include the East Coast, Canada, and Hawaii.
Finally, there is a factor that seems to be neglected by high school seniors quite often: prestige. Though it may seem snobbish to say so, a college’s name matters. Though a school like UC Berkeley may not be as good a match for a certain student as a lesser-known college, it may be advantageous to go there simply because a potential employer is more likely to recognize it. In addition, a degree from a big-name university will often hold more weight than one from a smaller school.
Despite all the factors that we have to consider, students have to remember that the most important reason for going to a particular college is very simple. It must be a place where we feel happy. Regardless of a school’s price, or its programs, or its prestige, it has to be a place where the student can enjoy their experience and get the most from their education. Otherwise, it really doesn’t matter that a student saved some money by going there.
Written by Quan Nguyen