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Does it Matter What College You Go To? 5 Things to Know

Does it Matter What College You Go To? 5 Things to Know

college selection Dec 14, 2021

As your high school graduation approaches and you begin receiving all the college
advertisements, you may find yourself wondering, “does it matter what college you go to?” The short answer is yes, it does. It may sound silly, but college really is the first step to the rest of your life. That being said, there are many different reasons why college selection is important. Common considerations for choosing a college include tuition costs, financial aid availability, programs and majors, campus or online options, housing, and ivy league or academic status. Regardless of your situation, there are a few things to consider when finalizing your choice in a college or university. So sharpen your pencils and take some notes as we walk through 5 things to know when choosing a college.

What Does Matter?
When we say that college is the first step to the rest of your life, we don’t mean that your future will be decided based on the college you chose. We mean that the connections you make, the lessons you learn, and the experiences you have will inform how you transition to the next steps in life. Relax and take time to consider what you want out of college. Once you know that, you will be able to really answer precisely why does it matter what college you go to. Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is generally that you go to college to get a job.
Studies from the Quarterly Journal of Economics have found that attending a prestigious or ivy league does not carry much weight in hiring decisions. It does make a difference in the overall earning potential in specific industries.

Perhaps the more important question to consider is the school’s offerings? You will be spending the entire next chapter of your educational career here. Ensure that the college you choose has the programs and degree level you are interested in. You can also
compare different programs to determine which schools in your budget offer the best experience for you based on courses, terms, and credit hours.

While ivy league status may not hold much weight in hiring decisions, accreditation does. Be
sure you are choosing a school that is properly accredited. Red flags that colleges may not be legit include GPA guarantees, excessive tuition rates, suspiciously quick degree claims, and
pictures or mention of a campus that doesn’t exist.

Finally, consider your high school GPA and test scores. Be sure that you meet the admission
requirements for whatever school you are considering applying for. If you still have time for
improvements and you have a school in mind, talk to your teachers and school counselor about what you can do to meet the requirements in time for graduation.

What Accreditation Should a College Have?
So, what accreditation should a college have? In general, a college should have a seal of
accreditation on its website or promotional materials from a regional, national, or specialized
accreditation organization.

Accreditation ensures quality standards are met across the board for financial, privacy, and
transcripts. In addition, it reduces the amount of time students spend researching the minimum standards of the school so they can focus on the overall quality of offerings. If you have concerns about the accreditation of a school you are considering, check the Database of
Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).

Types of institutions that can obtain accreditation include:
● Public universities
● Private universities
● For-profit universities
● Nonprofit universities
● Single-purpose institutions
● Private career training institutions
● Faith-based universities
● Distance learning universities
● Law schools
● Medical schools
● Health professions education programs

Can You Be Enrolled In Two Colleges at Once?
If you are on the fence about committing to one school, consider; can you be
enrolled in two colleges at once? You may be happy to know that the answer is yes. Dual-
enrollment or co-enrollment is most common for students taking both high school and college classes in the same term. However, it can be used for undergraduates as well.
In general, students can elect fully on-campus classes, fully online classes, or a combination of
both. Students can co-enroll in either two community colleges with two-year programs or one
four-year college and one two-year college. This approach has the potential to save students money and expand scheduling and course options. Keep in mind that financial aid can be
complicated in these scenarios, so it’s important to do some research and talk with the
admissions offices to be sure. In general, financial aid will only be applied to one school, leaving the other to be paid out of pocket.

Do You Need To Declare a Major?
Did you know that you do not need to declare a major right away? Schools generally pressure students to declare a major right off the bat. In reality, you likely won’t be studying anything related to your major for at least two years. Most programs require you to acquire 42- 60 general education credits from courses such as math, English, and humanities.
Deciding where you will spend your educational career is a big enough decision. It’s good to know you don’t have to stress about making decisions for your career today. If you are uncertain about what you want to do after college, that’s okay. It is a healthy practice to take time to process new situations before making commitments. Work with your academic advisor to determine what majors might be right for you.

Will Your Credits Transfer?
Finally, it would be best to look for a school that will allow you to transfer credits. Life changes, and nothing is set in stone. Protect your education (not to mention your investment) now by ensuring that any credits obtained through the chosen institution will at least, in part, be available to transfer should you need to use that option. Check with the admissions office or online to determine the transfer policy for the schools that interest you.
So instead of asking yourself, “does it matter what college you go to?” try asking yourself, “what matters to me when choosing what college I go to?” Then, refer back to these questions to guide the process and make an informed decision when choosing the right college for you.

 

Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

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