Maybe you’re a bright-eyed high school senior just trying to figure out your next step. Or, perhaps, high school is a distant memory, you’re less than satisfied with where your career is right now, and you’re considering going back to school. Either way, the choice of which college to attend is a big decision.
And let’s be honest: Life can get in the way sometimes in either scenario. This could mean that getting your degree online at places like Excelsior College can be the best option for starting your schooling while staying engaged in your hectic life.
Regardless of where you are in life, check out these five tips before making a final decision about which college you will attend:
Consider your interests
Most of us have a pretty good idea in high school what does not interest us, so we can rule out careers in those subjects. Perhaps you weren’t particularly inclined toward the classroom and would prefer a more technical degree or certificate. Either way, deciding what interests you is the major first step. This helps pin down what type of college (liberal arts college, technical college, etc.) you would like to attend and then allows you to choose a college based on what majors and programs different schools offer.
Ensuring the school you plan on attending has accreditation means that your credits from other schools will be transferable and your degree will be taken seriously by future employers. Plus, according to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, accreditation is important when you are applying for federal grants or loans (an unaccredited institution will not qualify).
Where you decide to go to school affects everything from where you will live for the next two to four years to what types of degrees you can expect to get. If you’re not interested in moving, living at home and going to a local college is an option. Or you can apply to institutions like Excelsior College that offer 30 different online degree programs to choose from, which may fit your life and schedule better.
While some may desire to go and live on a college campus for the experience, more and more people are discovering that online learning may be the better option if the experience isn’t an important aspect of college for us. In fact, according to a report published in 2018, an average of 6.3 million students in the US take at least one online class. This seems to point to online learning as an increasingly popular option.
According to Education Corner, generally speaking, choosing to attend college outside of your home state is going to cost you more. You must consider things like moving, rent or room and board, and the additional costs of living away from home, on top of an often higher out-of-state tuition. Getting some credits out of the way at a community college might be a cheaper option to start out with — just make sure all credits transfer to where you want to go eventually. If you’re on a tight budget, choosing an in-state public school or an online option like Excelsior College can help you finish your degree faster, relatively on-the-cheap, and with credit transfers as an option.
Let’s get realistic for a second: You will need to make a living and pay off any student loan debt you accrue after graduating. Preferably, this will be done by putting your degree to good use and finding a fulfilling and well-paying job. When deciding on a college, it’s important to consider what opportunities you will have with the degree you plan on pursuing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the more [we] learn, the more [we] earn,” but it still helps to recognize which fields are burgeoning and have significant earnings potential.
Thinking through your post-secondary education options by following the advice laid out here will lead to a rewarding — and hopefully profitable — experience that will impact the rest of your life positively.