As you begin to approach the final stages of high school, it is important to be aware of your opportunities going forward. Whether you consider attending a four-year university a definite step after high school, an eventual goal, or not part of your life plan whatsoever, it is beneficial to understand what a higher education truly is, and how to find the best path to suit your needs.
What Colleges Look For
Although applying to college has become synonymous with difficulty, all students will make it through the application process if they understand where to start. First, reach out to your guidance counselors and teachers, as they are there to help you succeed and provide your recommendations. You should also practice for your SAT or ACTs, since scoring well on standardized assessments can impress even test optional schools.
However, universities like to see more than good grades and test scores, so stay true to your own interests and explore clubs and other extracurriculars to set your application apart. Most importantly, remember that there are various factors that contribute to college acceptance, and you should never let admissions decisions impact your own feelings of self-worth.
The Cost of College
College is a notoriously expensive endeavor. Typically, colleges will provide an estimate for Cost of Attendance (COA), which is the sum of expenses that a four year college experience will demand. The COA includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. The 2020-2021 average COA was $54,880 for private colleges, $26,820 for in-state colleges, and $43,280 for out-of-state. State residents fund schools in the form of taxes, so being an official resident of a state qualifies you for less expensive in-state tuition.
How to Cut Costs
One method to cut the costs of attending college is living at home, as the average annual room and board costs $13,120 at private colleges and $11,620 at public colleges. However, you can also borrow books from the library or obtain digital copies of the material to generate large savings, since the average cost of book and school supplies is $1,240 annually. College expenses can greatly impact your future, so understand the financial implications of attending a university and always consider every option available to you. Apply for scholarships, grants, and financial aid, and look for in-state schools or community colleges that can offer great educations without financially stressing your family.
What Are Some Benefits to College?
College is definitely not the only available route to take after graduating high school. However, college graduates have higher earning potential throughout their careers. Beyond financial gain, attending college can also provide insight into what avenues you wish to pursue and help you develop new skills throughout your studies.
If you are interested in receiving a higher education, develop a plan that is best for you, and schedule an appointment with a school guidance counselor or teacher to help you through the process. There are many paths in life, and college is just one of them. As a young adult, you should consider where you want to be in the future, and which journeys will be best suited to your needs.
CollegeData. “How Much Does College Cost?” CollegeData, 18 Nov. 2020, https://www.collegedata.com/resources/pay-your-way/whats-the-price-tag-for-a-college-education.
“8 Reasons Why Students Should Go to College: CFNC.” NCPLanFORcollege.ORG, 31 July 2019, https://www.ncplanforcollege.org/8-reasons-why-college/.
About the Author:
Harper Lindsay is a rising sophomore student. She was elected as vice president of her sophomore class and has a passion for Model UN and cross country. Harper is the founder of Food For Fidos, a nonprofit organization which contributes to the amount of dog food in Boston food banks, to support people caring for their pets throughout difficult times.