According to a couple popular song lyrics, the best things in life are free and money can’t buy you love. But it’s going to cost plenty of money to go to college and you can pay now or later – or usually both. There are many things you can do to alleviate costs. The first thing is to start researching early for scholarship opportunities and try to take advantage of them. Explore financial aid packages and factor in what school is offering what when it comes to ways to save money. Balance the cost of living on campus to off campus.
In a recent survey, 80 percent of students pointed to a half dozen reasons behind their final decision: affordability, desired program, career outcomes, reputation/academic quality, value and proximity to home. Other factors include a sense of community on campus, flexibility of schedule, real-world experience in curriculum and a feeling they would fit in – never underestimate the feeling aspect.
- Visit all the schools on your list and even some you may not have considered before! You want to feel comfortable in your environment, making sure that it is a good fit.
- Review your financial aid package! Financing your college experience is a big step towards deciding where you will attend school.
- Start early and be relentless. Don’t sit back and wait, jump first to get involved and let people know who you are, what your future goals are and why you are someone that has a plan. And be engaged over the life of your college experience, only then will you really know if you made the right decision.
- Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Choosing a college that fits your needs is the most important! You want to make the decision based on what’s best for you and your family’s situation, financially, logistically and personally.
- Don’t underestimate the safety aspect. Parents should do a deep dive on crime statistics on campus and in the surrounding area, research the safety features on campus and even the medical services offered to students.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to make a decision. Generally speaking, May/June is a good time to have made your choice. This will allow you enough time to schedule the courses you want, finalize any financial choices you need to make and also get into housing if you plan to live on campus!
This is your time
This experience should be fun, exciting and self-fulfilling – for the student and parents. Try not to stress about the small stuff. This is your moment, do something with it and do it with enthusiasm, passion and creativity.
Consider a “specialty” school
Many young students are viewing the world through a different lens these days and “focusing” more on very specific interests and career opportunities. Here are few:
Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids
Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids
College for Creative Studies in Detroit
DIME Detroit, an institute for serious musicians
Smaller school options
There are plenty of smaller school options that offer big-time advantages and options right here in Michigan. Davenport University in Grand Rapids, with an enrollment less than 6,000, and Rochester University in Rochester Hills, with an enrollment just over 1,000, are two schools worth exploring.