COMMUNITY VOICES | Tips for picking the right college


Looking for the right college is a task that plagues students young and old, and parents everywhere. What should I major in? How much can I afford?  Should I live on campus? All of these questions create stress and anxiety. Through my educational journey I have attended a community college, a state college, and finally a private college. Here are a few tips I wish I had known from the beginning.

I started my college experience at Anoka Ramsey Community College as a PSEO student (A high school student taking classes in college instead of high school). Community colleges are a great place to start if you are unaware of what major you want to work towards. Every single credit I took at ARCC transferred; helping me get a step ahead towards my major for a cheaper price. It is also important to check if any community colleges have your choice of major, because many do have a few select bachelor degrees offered, and at half of the price of a larger state or private college. One down fall is it felt like a glorified high school, having classes in one building, and teachers hunting you down if you don’t turn homework in. Both of which are not a bad thing, I just wanted more freedom being fresh from high school.

After one year at ARCC I transferred to St. Cloud State University. Heading to a larger school there are more opportunities regarding majors. When choosing a larger school it is important to remember there are a lot of other students on campus, which means you will get less attention with advisors, and less help with registration. This was one thing I hated. I received little to no help choosing classes, and when I found myself lost with regarding what classes I needed, there was no one to help. There are many positives of most state schools though, I am referencing to my experience at SCSU, printing is free up to a certain amount, and there are plenty of computers to use on campus. The library is extensive, and there are plenty of places to go for help with school work, like the Writing Center.

Finally I am finishing my education at Hamline University, a small private college in St. Paul, Minn. When choosing a private college tuition cost is what deters most people. I would say to make sure you know what your major is before you attend any private college, and make sure you are going into a field that you will have an income large enough to pay back loans you take. Comparing all three colleges that I have attended this school is where I feel most at home. There are many perks from dishing out more money. There is always someone to contact with any issue from registration, to paying your bill, to housing, and all of the employees are friendly. I have never had teachers prior to this school that are so well versed in the subject they teach, all of which have worked in the field they teach.

So before choosing a college, decide whether you know what your major is, figure out average pay for the job you seek, and decide if you have a tuition budget. Finally decide on the level of attention you want from staff, and think hard if you want to attend a college known for parties. Everything sounds fun until you realize you are wasting thousands of dollars, so think hard.