Picture this: You’re at the end of your summer before your senior year in high school. All summer, you’ve been working your minimum wage job, completing a project for school, and spending time with your friends and family. Every day is unique. Every day is new. You meet new people, go new places, and make new memories. Suddenly, and all too quickly, summer comes to an abrupt end. Senior year begins and the days go by faster than ever. You were courageous this year; you took “hard” classes. Well, hard classes means more schoolwork than ever before. More than you were expecting.
And don’t forget about your job, three or four days a week after school for five or six hours, and one or both days of the weekend for eight hours. This is harder than you thought. You’re always tired. You’re always behind. You catch up one day, and are behind by the next. If you didn’t have to work, you could probably catch up. However, if you don’t work, you have no money to drive, and definitely no money for college. College is the one word you wish to avoid, but know it is inevitable. Applications are due soon, and you don’t have a clue what you want to do, much less where you want to go.
Even if you were sure, there’s still a chance you can’t afford it. Coming from a family of five who lived in a one bedroom apartment when I was born, I am very lucky to be where I am now, and I know this. I have seen firsthand that with hard work and determination, everyone can succeed. I know I have the opportunity to do anything I want, be anyone I want. I could be an architect, a photographer, an engineer, a chemist. Anything. But what do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What type of school would be best for me? Deciding on if college is right for you, and if so, which college you want to attend is a very important decision to make.
It will cost you a lot of money, and is not a decision to take lightly. Colleges can be broken down into two basic types, which can then be broken down further. The first of these is two-year colleges. Two-year institutions, sometimes called community or junior colleges, have programs that offer up to an associate degree, Associate of Arts (A. A. ) or Associate of Science (A. S. ), following successful completion of a two-year, full-time program. A few two-year colleges also offer the final two years of an undergraduate program only, awarding the bachelor’s degree rather than the associate degree.
There are two basic types of programs at community and junior colleges, so when you start your search, having your career goals in mind will help in selecting a school. Some programs are strictly academic and are to prepare students to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year school. Others are more applied and provide career training in specific areas (technical college). Though some of the credits offered at this second type of school may be accepted by a four-year institute, this type of school is not designed for students planning to transfer to such an institute.
The next basic type of school is a four-year institution (college or university). The college or university, sometimes called an institute when offered programs focus on engineering or other technical courses, award a bachelors degree. The Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees are the most common, but many other bachelor’s programs are offered. Bachelor’s degrees are typically awarded after successfully completing a four-year, full-time program. Programs in some fields of study or at some institutions can be longer than four years. Some colleges have an affiliation with a specific religious group.
If you’re looking at going to a four-year institution, a good place to start your search is a college guide. These guides show you the different types of four-year institutions available to you. Information provided by individual colleges can help influence your decision as well as. Both two-year colleges and four-year universities can be further broken down. One further division is public and private institutes. Generally, two-year community colleges, and state colleges or universities are publicly supported (funded). The state these institutions are located in generally provides the majority of their funding.
The cost of private schools is generally higher because they do not receive the same state or federal funding. Colleges and universities with religious affiliations are private schools. Most are Christian (Roman Catholic and Protestant). Most often, you do not need to be a follower of any specific religion to attend a religiously affiliated college and these institutions generally strive to avoid effecting any students religious views. Cost of college can be a very important thing to take into consideration when choosing a college. Tuition costs have been going up at an increasing rate for many years.
“In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2011–2012 academic year averaged $21,447. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $42,224. ” In the past 30 years, the cost has increased by over 500%, and that cost is expected to continue increasing by around 8% per year (the cost of living has only increased by approximately 250% in that same time period). That’s an additional $1,500 per year for in-state public colleges, and around $3,000 more per year for private colleges!
Why, though, has this cost been increasing so drastically? In most other countries in the world, college is either payed for by taxes, or is very affordable. But what makes up this cost? The majority is tuition. Tuition is what colleges charge for the instruction they provide. Tuition is charged either by the semester or quarter depending on the college. Typically, one year of school is made up of classes ranging from early fall to spring (i. e late August through early May). Tuition for in-state residents at a public university is a bargain compared to what out-of-staters pay (often double the tuition of residents).
Other costs (which will be covered in the following paragraphs) are generally about the same for residents or non-residents. Tuition at some colleges can also vary by major. Students in the sciences, engineering, computing, premed programs, and the fine arts often pay more. This “variable tuition” is something to keep in mind if you have a program/major in mind. Student fees are the next major part of the overall cost of college. These include anything from library access and parking, to registration and student government.
Colleges usually give a total student fee, although this is generally only broken down into the most significant parts. However, other things that are generally included in these costs are health insurance, use of athletic facilities, ID cards, diplomas and graduation costs, lab supplies, computer access, student activities, and local bus service. Housing, meals, books, and other school supplies make up the majority of the rest of the total cost of college. Many colleges offer on-campus housing that varies greatly in price and comfort. Meal plans may also be purchased.
Depending on the college, some plans are included with the cost of housing, while other schools keep the two separate. The plans can vary from as little as 7 meals a week or less to all you can eat, depending on how much you want to pay. Laptops are provided by most colleges, however the price to use these machines is usually quite hefty. While it may be expensive to rent a laptop, most often you will have access to nearly any program, as well as being able to purchase cheaper, student copies of programs to keep permanently. In high school, I was hardly told anything about college.
Never was it even suggested that it might be a good idea to research different types of schools. After reading article after article about different types of colleges, and the factors to include in the total cost, I feel like I am finally beginning to understand the different types of colleges and the cost that comes along with them. There is still a lot of research to be done, but at least I am beginning to find my way. Hopefully, if you (the reader) are also thinking about college, and maybe even in a similar situation to me, this has helped you start working towards your final decision.
Courtney from Study Moose
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