Knowledge Bound: The RSC Blog



Visit the Knowledge Bound Blog regularly for news analysis, editorials and facts about education and financial aid.

Posted on Aug 15, 2013 - 08:45 AM | Selecting a College | Comments (0)

Money is an undeniably important part of the American college system. Parents start saving when their children are young, then worry they haven’t saved enough. Students worry about the debt they’re taking on, then spend 15 or 20 years paying it off.
 
Families struggle to look past money when it comes to college, but in the end, it influences the top two reasons students choose the colleges they do.
 
Student Factors In College Selection
 
  • Cost. Students look at the bottom line: tuition, fees, dormitory expenses (room and board), books, and travel.
  • Financial Aid. What will this college cost after financial aid?
  • Academic Reputation. It’s why everyone wants to go to Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, etc.
  • Geographic Setting. Close to home or far away?
  • Family & Friends. Where did my parents go and where are my friends going?
 
While all of these should be important considerations when it comes to finding a college, students don’t always fully understand the ways to use these standards. A lack of proper guidance from guidance counselors, college admissions officers, or other well-meaning people often complicates this situation.
 
Using the Wrong Criteria When Selecting a College
 
When a college posts its total cost, it’s very rarely the price you pay. It’s like buying a car. There could be all sorts of extra fees involved, but the salesman will likely bring down the asking price. Colleges often work to bring down the price, too – particularly for needy students. Only the wealthiest students pay the full sticker price.
 
Financial aid is almost impossible to figure out, and yet students try to guess what they’ll receive when they’re picking a college. Most could use expert guidance here to estimate their Expected Family Contribution, provide a list of top financial aid colleges, and maximize their financial aid.
 
Too often students pursue schools based on their academic reputations without considering those that specialize in certain fields, or that have great career service departments, etc. Don’t fall for the college rankings; develop your own rankings for colleges that interest you. RSC offers a full complement of research tools and tips. You have access to detailed information on more than 4,000 colleges. You’re bound to find one that meets your needs and still has a great academic reputation!
 
Geographic setting can be another tricky one, unless you know what you want. It may sound great to go to school near the ocean, unless you spend more time at the beach than in class. RSC’s personality tests help students decide on their majors, career options and other important factors, like how far away from home they want to be. Maybe living near Mom and Dad is good for you (or maybe cross-country is better!).
 
You should talk with family and friends about college, but don’t base your choice on where they went or where they’re going. Find the right college for you through research, personality tests, criteria (you can search through 25 of them by logging into RSC’s student website) and cost.
 
Money may be an important part of your college consideration, but it shouldn’t be the only thing. And if you search for colleges using other criteria and find the college that’s perfect for you, you may just find that your chosen college rewards you with even more financial aid.
 
 

 
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