You’re a sophomore or junior in high school. You’ve assignments are turned in, and your tests are behind you! Now it’s time to take a well-deserved break and binge-watch all the shows you’ve been waiting to watch. It’s winter break and there’s nothing better to do… think again!

It’s actually the perfect time to do some research and soul-searching to answer the question, “What College should I go to?” in a few short years! The truth is, narrowing down your list of colleges to the one you will call home for the next four years is a daunting task. There’s a lot to consider, but we’re here to help.

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Follow these tips in the order below to find the best-fit college.

1. College Cost

One of the most important factors to consider is the final cost of attending a college. Maybe you’re in love with the idea of going away and attending a specific college, but don’t overlook the debt you will carry after you graduate. Attending a college comes with a high price tag, not just financially but also emotionally.

  • As a sophomore, ask your parents to decide and give you an actual dollar amount they are willing to invest towards your tuition. Use this College Cost Calculator to help you discern what you can actually afford. Use your final estimated cost to create a budget, save, find scholarships, and determine how much money you will have to borrow.

  • Make sure you understand what colleges mean when they talk about meeting your financial needs. Colleges that indicate “percent need met” means they will meet 100% of your financial needs as determined by the FAFSA. However, those colleges that say, “50% need met” means they guarantee to cover up to only 50% of your need.

  • If you’re considering a loan, understand the difference between these two kinds of government loans and what the final cost would be to you. Subsidized Loan for students with demonstrated financial need; this loan allows for repayment to be deferred until after graduation. Unsubsidized loans are available to students regardless of financial need, but students are responsible for repayment with no grace period.

  • Don’t fall into the trap of believing that scholarships are not worth your time. Every year thousands of scholarships go unused. Begin applying in your junior year. Set up a system and apply for scholarships every month. Your diligence will pay off. Write two to three powerful essays that can be modified to meet requirements. Scholarships are available through local, private, and college institutions. Don’t forget to apply for awards and grants.

2. Choose a Career Path

If you’re not sure about what you want to study, make sure you consider a college that offers a variety of majors. If you want to shave off time and expenses and get the most of your education, discerning the right career path before choosing a college is a must. This is our area of expertise, and we offer our services at a very affordable price. For us, there is no greater joy than helping students choose their best-fit career path and college. It reduces stress and allows you to make your college experience all that it should be. After deciding which career path is right for you, it’s critical to consider if the colleges on your list offer your major and provide the best opportunities for you to be an expert in your field. Make sure you also compare the quality of resources offered by each college.

A cinematography student came to us in her junior year of college because she was struggling to maintain her grades and interest. As a junior, she had yet to attend a class related to her field. The university she was attending didn’t have the resources to give her any behind-the-camera or studio experience before graduating. To make matters worse, she was a kinesthetic learner who needed more hands-on experience than classroom lectures. Though the university offered her major, it didn’t have the quality of resources needed to help her succeed right after graduation.

3. Environment

It’s important to consider the colleges’ location, distance from home, setting, size, sports, clubs, student body makeup, volunteer opportunities, and values, are best suited to facilitate your personal and professional growth. Some students need a small student body to thrive while others a medium or larger size. It is also vital to understand the kind of faculty and their teaching style to match it to your learning style.

4. Grab your college search list and take a virtual college tour

Although these tours are not the same as being on the college campus, they are immensely informational. Take a look around and check out all they have to offer.

Contact us to receive a free college comparison chart and find out how we can help you discern your best career fit.