BY: EKREM KAYA
If you’re thinking about applying to college or any form of post secondary education, it is probably too late to change your GPA or win academic awards when you’re ready to apply. Those are the things that students should be aware of starting 9th grade if not earlier.. However, there are still some things you can do to make the right decision and put yourself in an environment where you can thrive. Here are some points to consider and some steps to take as you prepare your application.
Options for Post-secondary Education
First and foremost, a 4-year college is not the only path to take once you graduate from high school. In fact, there are many different paths: Something for everyone. The options include enlisting in the military, going to a community college, or taking a gap year. Each has their benefits and can be a good fit for someone. It is important to figure out what is best for you and which plan will put you into the career you have planned for yourself. Here is an article with more detailed information on the educational options after high school. It's important to remember that there is no shame in taking a year off or going to community college. Talk to your counselor, figure out what you want.
College Entrance Exams
Whether it is the SAT or the ACT you will most likely need to take a college entrance exam for the majority of secondary education pathways. First of all, decide which exam is best for you and would highlight your abilities. There are few differences between the two exams and here is a great comparison by the PrepScholar to help you decide. If you have already taken the exams, you might want to consider taking it again for a better score. This might set you apart from other students and increase your chances of getting into your dream school. There are many online study tools for either test but a great start would be Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice.
Major or Program of Study
Now that you have decided to go to a 4-year college or university, how do you figure out what to major in?There are hundreds of majors in all types of fields. Not every university offers the same majors so if you are determined on a specific major, the next step is to find a school that offers it. You can also choose to major in two different fields or minor in one study and major in another. There is no rush since many schools allow some time before you finalize your major so you can make the best decision for yourself and your career. In fact, this is a common practice among many students who choose their major in their sophomore or even in junior year. However, if you plan on continuing your education after a bachelor’s degree through law or medical school, you might want to consider majoring in a field that will prepare you for your future education.
The physical appearance and the feel of a campus can be a great factor in deciding which college you choose. Sometimes the atmosphere of a school makes you attached or acts as a deal breaker. Plan some visits and walk the campus, it will help.
College athletics is a whole world of its own with complex recruiting processes and limited number of roster spots. The NCAA oversees collegiate athletics and here their website to help see if it is the right move for you.
College can be expensive. Oftentimes, the debt acquired for a college education takes years to pay off. College prices vary from public to private colleges with public colleges usually being cheaper. Prices also vary between in state, out of state, and international students. All of these factors are critical when enrolling as the decision will impact your financial status for years. However, there are ways to reduce the cost of a college degree. Financial aid and scholarships can make your education more affordable. Each year, FAFSA, one of the major financial aid providers in the U.S., provides $120 billion in grants, work study, and low interest loans. Private colleges usually have their own financial aid policies and will provide income based assistance. Merit based scholarships are another way to reduce the cost of college. Universities can give scholarships based on academic accomplishments or athletic ability.