College Planning Checklist

Planning for college takes time. It’s never too early to start thinking about where you want to go and what you want to study. Take stock of your college planning concerns before you start applying to different schools.

As application time draws nearer, you should already have a few different schools on your list. There are the schools you absolutely know will take you. These aren’t your number one choices. They’re safe picks. Next, you have the colleges that are right within your reach. You probably meet most of the general requirements (like minimum GPA and test scores), but you aren’t entirely sure you’ll get in. The last category of colleges is reserved for the fantasy picks. Theses places have absolutely no reason to take you, but your going to apply to at least a couple of these dream schools anyway, just in case.

Schedule campus visits (months in advance) so that you can scope out these institutions and the areas where they are located. Investigate the majors offered. Talk to people in different departments. Meet with professors, academic advisors and counselors. Find out specifics about your major and the courses you wish to take. Chat with students that pass by you and ask them for honest responses to basic atmospheric questions. Discover answers that can’t be found from reading a brochure. What’s the nightlife like? Is living on campus fun or not? And so on.

When you are on your visits, make sure to pay a visit to the financial aid office. Investigating funding options is an important part of the college planning process. You need to know what the tuition bill is going to be like, and how much of it will be paid for by the school, the government, you or your family. You’re also going to have to secure funds for housing, meals, learning materials and living expenses. Make sure that you have crunched the numbers, so that you know what the financial implications of choosing a particular college will be.

Geography is also an important consideration. Of the four years that you will spend attending a university, not every moment is spent in the classroom or on campus. You need to be sure that you can exist comfortably in whatever environment you’re considering. If you want to live in a small town, don’t move to the big city. If you want to live by the beach, don’t choose a college in the Midwest. Identify what it is you’re looking for in a location, and target those types of areas.

If you take the time and do your research, you can simplify the daunting task of planning for college. Information is power, and the more info you have about a particular institution, the better. As acceptance letters start arriving in the mail, you’ll be confident in your final school selection. You’ve already done your homework, made your visits, asked questions, crunched the numbers and pondered the geography. Now you can be self-assured about accepting your enrollment offer from the college of your choice.

About the Author

Take a look at more industry related articles by Chris Stout . Chris Stout is a frequent contributor with articles pertaining to using Distance Learning and Career Advice.

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Image Credit: Afro-IP

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