How To Find The Right College For You

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What’s the perfect college? Well, some of our clients would say location, while others would say athletics. Unfortunately, there’s no magical answer for you. However, according to College Board, these are the things that you should consider.

What Do You Want In A College?

Ask yourself what’s important to you, where you want to be and who you want to become. Then you can figure out what types of colleges will allow you to reach your goals.

Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Size
  • Location
  • Distance from home
  • Available majors and classes
  • Housing options
  • Makeup of the student body
  • Available extracurricular activities
  • Campus atmosphere

Which of these aspects are things you feel you must have to be comfortable at a college? Which things are you flexible on?

Also, think about what you want to accomplish in college. Do you want to train for a specific job or get a wide-ranging education? If you have a major in mind, are the colleges you’re considering strong in that area?

Keep An Open Mind

While it’s good to have some ideas in mind about what sorts of colleges will be right for you, stay open to all the possibilities at the beginning of your search.

Challenge your assumptions about what will work for you. For example, “you may not think you’re able to thrive in a large institution because you come from a small high school, but … you may actually do better in that type of setting,” notes Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a history professor at the University of Central Florida.

Talk to people who know you. Tell parents, teachers, relatives, family friends and your school counselor about your goals, and ask if they can suggest colleges that may be a good fit for you.

Don’t limit your search. At the start of this process, you may rule out colleges because you think that they are too expensive or too hard to get into, but this may not be the reality. Remember that financial aid can make college more affordable and colleges look at more than just grades and test scores.

Do Your Homework

Once you have a list of schools, it’s time to do research. To learn more about the colleges you’re considering, check out college guidebooks and the colleges’ websites. Jot down your questions and get answers by:

  • Talking to your school counselor or teachers
  • Checking out colleges’ student blogs, if available
  • Contacting college admission officials
  • Asking admission officials to recommend current students or recent graduates to talk to
  • Visiting college campuses, if possible (for more information, see the Campus Visit Checklist)

Earn More Money By Attending These Colleges

Choosing a college isn’t a simple task – you want to pick a school that will challenge you intellectually and provide you with life experiences that help you grow as a person.

PayScale’s College Salary Report has ranked colleges and universities by the median salaries of their alumni. By knowing how much you can expect to earn after getting your bachelor’s degree, you can choose a school wisely and set yourself up for future financial security, especially when evaluating how much to borrow to help pay for your education.

The Best 4-Year Universities in 2018

For now, we’ll focus on learning more about the universities that came out on top in 2018 for having the highest salary potential and what makes these schools so beneficial for students.

Harvey Mudd College – Mid-Career Salary: $158,200

Harvey Mudd is consistently among the top school on our College Salary Report year after year. The small, private school of about 800 students is located in Claremont, California. HMC offers students small class sizes, and the institution has an academic focus in science and engineering, with 85 percent of graduates earning a degree in STEM.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Mid-Career Salary: $155,200

It goes without saying that MIT is one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. Students who enter the four-year degree program at MIT can expect to perform a lot of hands-on research related to their studies. Unlike Harvey Mudd, MIT has an undergraduate population of just under five thousand, which means larger class sizes for MIT students. MIT is largely focused on engineering and research.

United States Naval Academy – Mid-Career Salary: $152,800

Military and service academies continue to be great options for students because the cost to attend is so low. The USNA campus is located near the water between the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland. The curriculum at USNA is mostly focused on technology and learning skills for a career in service.

California Institute of Technology – Mid-Career Salary: $151,600

It’s not uncommon to see technology-focused universities take the top spot on our college rankings. As one of the top universities in California, CalTech has a lot to offer students ranging from university sponsored research opportunities to an athletics program that is sure to thrill. There are around one thousand undergraduates enrolled at CalTech, and ninety-six percent of those students are studying STEM-related subjects.

College Degrees With The Worst ROI

A bachelor’s degree earns you nearly $500 more per week than a high school degree, and, according to the Social Security Administration, you’ll earn a whopping $180,000 to $260,00 more across your lifetime.

But not all degrees are created equally. In fact, if you’re not careful, that bachelor’s may not give you much financial advantage at all. The true ROI of a degree depends on the college you choose to attend, the amount of aid you get, the job market you enter, and many other factors. Generally, though, the below degree programs are some of the worst investments you can make.

What’s the ROI of a college degree?

According to FOX Business, your ROI is your return on investment — the amount you made thanks to your degree vs. the costs you incurred to get it.

To calculate the potential ROI of a college degree you’re considering, you’ll need to know how much the program costs (in full, including room, board, etc.), what the projected earnings are for that career path and the exact program/school, and how much in loans/debt, if any, you’ll need to cover your costs. The interest you’ll pay will factor in, too.

THESE GRADUATE DEGREES HAVE THE WORST DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIOS

Here’s a formula you can follow once you have this data on hand:

Total Career Earnings / Total Spent on the Degree * 100 = ROI

A good way to compare degree programs is to calculate the potential 10-year ROI of each program. To see how earnings measure up between programs you’re considering, see the Department of Education’s College Scorecard website.

What degrees have the worst ROI?

The true ROI of a degree depends on the college you choose to attend, the amount of aid you get, the job market you enter, and many other factors. Generally, though, the below degree programs are some of the worst investments you can make.

Education

It’s no secret that teachers aren’t paid well. But considering the costs of their education and future projections for the industry, the picture gets even bleaker. Let’s look at Alabama A&M as a good example. A student attending the public college’s teacher education program will pay about $88,000 for four years of schooling. They’ll also come out of it with about $33,000 in average federal debt. But upon graduation, they’ll make $25,400. To make matters worse, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects virtually no employment growth for primary and secondary school educators over the next 10 years.

Media

Employment opportunities for radio and TV professionals, as well as reporters and correspondents, are on their way down. The BLS projects a 7.3 percent decline in radio/TV announcer jobs, and a 12.1 percent dip in reporting gigs by 2028. What’s more? These media professionals often pay a pretty penny for their degrees. Journalism and media students at Auburn University leave school with a $128K bill in tow and around $20,000 in federal loans. Average earnings for these grads is $35,000.