Selecting a college is much like making a large purchase. When you think about it, college could be a $50,000 a year investment.  Like all major purchases and big decisions, you will want to weigh all options to make the right choice.  There are a few questions you will ask yourself and a few things to consider when selecting the school that is right for you.  Below are areas to consider as you are navigating through the college selection process.

 

Consider Location

Location can often be the determining factor when selecting a school. Ask yourself if being closer or further away from home is important to you.  Are you okay with staying at home with your parents, would you be okay being a plane ride away from home or would you like to have the flexibility to drive home frequently?  Do your parents need you close to home, do you have younger siblings that look up to you, or are you free from other obligations? These are all questions that you should factor into your decision-making process when it comes to selecting the best location.  Staying close to home offers benefits like frequent trips home throughout the year for birthdays, holidays, and should there be any family emergencies. Going away could help expand your independence, sense of adventure, but may create a strong case of homesickness.

Do you have a dream school? Have you considered your parents alma mater?  Are others providing you with their suggestions to consider?  What makes these options so special? What stands out about each choice? What does each option offer that the others do not?

 

Factor in Costs 

How much will each option cost you out of pocket? When you look at college, you should consider it an investment?  What will the return be on your investment?  Will your choice carry weight in your industry after graduation? Will you be connected to other professionals in your field?  Will your degree require additional education, certifications, or licensures?

Student loans can be follow you for up to 10, 15, or 20 years. Selecting a school that will require the least amount of debt, will have a major impact later in life when you are considering a home purchase, starting a family, or enjoying a new hobby.

Look at scholarship opportunities that can help assist with costs.  Scholarships are available for a variety of reasons and will provide you with some financial relief.  Scholarships are available for athletes, and not just football and basketball players. Discover More Here to know how to purchase basketball hoops. There are scholarships for golf, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, and more. Be sure to research programs and showcase your talents to a recruiter or coach.  There are also a host of other scholarships for women, men, left-handed people, first generation college students, and much more. Scholarships can also be found at the university, in the community, at your parent’ job, at your job, or even your high school.

 

Look at Admission Requirement

Do you know your SAT score? Do you know what score is required to gain admission to the university of your choice?  Do you need to write an essay?  Can you get creative with your admission application?  Do you need letters of recommendation? Will you need to complete an interview? Be sure to review the requirement for admission and ensure your application is submitted with all required information.

Be mindful of deadlines for application submissions.  Set aside enough time to complete, review, and mail the application. You do not want to exert a lot of energy into an application that will not be considered, because it is incomplete or missed the deadline.

 

Determine other factors that are important to you

Is there anything else on your college wish list? Do you want intramural sports, arts, or perhaps extracurricular activities?  Do you want Greek life, cultural experiences, service learning, or leadership opportunities?  How is the food on campus? What are the class sizes?  Do you have flexibility with designing your major, adding a minor, or double majoring? Are you required to live on campus, can you get open communication from the various offices on campus, do you feel welcome on campus?

Selecting a college is quite the task and should not be taken lightly.  You should take your time to identify the school(s) of your choice. Research requirements and how each school compares to your ideal college. College admissions can be extremely selective and with so many people applying you want to submit a thoroughly completed application on time.  In addition, you should select 3-5 schools and submit applications.  When your acceptance letters start to arrive, you will have the opportunity to select the school that is best for you.

 

Good luck during the process as you move one huge step closer to your college career.

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Whew!

You made it to the end of the semester.  By this time, you probably do not want to think about another reading assignment, a group project, or balancing the various things you had on your plate just a few short weeks ago.  Right now, sitting in a corner playing Candy Crush, double tapping on Instagram, reading articles/books for fun, or taking the latest BuzzFeed quiz is the only thing on your agenda.  As enticing as those past times sound and as easily as you may be lured in, you want to be sure that you really utilize the summer to productively decompress from the semester. 

The summer could be used to reconnect with old friends, strengthen your bond with family, or explore some of your new-found interest. Below are some ways to not get sucked into the time spiraling daze of your smart phone.  

Ways to avoid losing your summer to your smart phone:

1.       Go to a concert.  Take it up a notch and attend a concert in another city, state, or even country.

2.       Go on a trip.  Pick a place you’ve never been.  Try travelling by train, bus, or drive.

3.       Make a new friend.  Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to someone you do not know.

4.       Try a new work-out routine and explore exciting options like Pilates, Cross-Fit, or training for a race. Discover innovative ways to stay active and invigorate your fitness journey with resources like the Pilates certification available at https://www.americansportandfitness.com/products/pilates-certification.

5.       Go for a walk around the neighborhood with your parents.

6.       Take your younger sibling to the local arcade.

7.       Volunteer to assist at a local organization for charity or to gain experience in your field.

8.       Jumpstart your required reading for next semester.

9.       Pick up ice cream and visit your grandparents.

10.   Host a slumber party. You can invite new and old friends. 

11.   Help your siblings navigate through their summer reading list.

12.   Assist your parents with a project around the house.

13.   Stay connected to classmates.  Invite them to spend time with you and accept their offers when presented.

14.   Join a challenge to help count the days and keep you engaged.  Think cooking, weight loss, or financial savings challenge.

15.   Take a class at the local community college. Taking a special interest class such as Pottery, Event Planning, or Computer Coding may spark new passions within you. 

16.   Clean and organize things around the house.  Talk to your parents about projects they have put off and would like to finish.  

17.   Work. Find a part time job to assist with saving for the next semester.

18.   Get involved on campus.  Orientation leaders and volunteers are needed to help assist with incoming freshmen.

19.    Write an article in your field.  Once written attempt to get it published within your professional organization.

20.   Try something new.  No matter how big or small, keep a positive outlook and try something you have never experienced.   

ira service

Summertime is the best time to complete service in the community.  There are a number of things that you can do to gain volunteer hours and help your community at the same time.  Below are 10 possible ides for ways you can give back this summer.

  1. Assist with a community garden. Gardening is a big trend and a lot of people and organizations are making the choice to grow their own and provide more organic options.
  2. Help at a local homeless shelter. There are a variety of options for families, just children, just women, and just men. Find a shelter that speaks to your desire to assist.
  3. Support a good cause.  Many organizations will host summer events such a races, carnivals, awards banquets, and more outreach events. Find a cause that is near to you and see what they have on the calendar.
  4. Donate time and supplies to a local camp.  Summer camps run throughout the entire summer and can be found everywhere from local churches to YMCAs.
  5. Clean a park/playground.  Find a park or playground that needs some attention.  Now find the organization responsible for the upkeep and find out how you can help. Even picking up trash could make the difference for the animals and children.
  6. Go abroad. Find a mission trip to be a part of and assist those in other countries.
  7. Build a house.  Habitat for Humanity and similar organizations will work to build or repair existing houses for those in need.
  8. Play with puppies.  Animal shelters need your special skills to play with animals awaiting adoption.
  9. Support a Food Bank. Lend a hand at a local bank to help organize and package items accordingly.
  10. Create your own project. Examine your passions, community, and issues affecting you or your family.

This list will hopefully jumpstart ideas within you that will stir some excitement in giving back. Once you have identified how you would like to give back, now you have to determine how to get involved.

There are a number of ways to research ways to get involved.  You can scour the internet using a variety of search terms based on your topic of choice. Get creative and don’t just search for volunteer opportunities in my city.  You may have to do some cold calling to organizations in your area of interest and let them know who you are, what you want to do, and how you could be of service to them.

You may have to step away from the computer and conduct your search in person. Smaller and start-up nonprofit organizations may not have big robust websites.  However, they usually have an office and you showing up in person could provide you with a better opportunity to landing the volunteer opportunity.

Lastly, get out into your community.  Look at local newspapers, go to local community centers, visit town hall meetings, reach out to local fraternity and sororities to find out how to get involved.  You can often see posters or ask local librarians or community center directors about upcoming opportunities, projects that organizations are working on, and ways you can get involved.

If you cannot find the project you are looking for, consider starting your own.  Develop a name, come up with a mission, and fundraise to help achieve your goals. Start off simple and small and allow the project to grow organically.

Be prepared that you may have to go through an interview process or you may just get thrown into the project.  Expect and be prepared for both. You should ace the interview by knowing a little bit about the organization, their mission, and how your skills, passion, and education can benefit the mission.  You should treat this experience like a real job; interview seriously, work hard, and be professional.  At the end of the experience, be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation or a document indicating how many hours you completed and your responsibilities.  Keep this information handy as it could be useful when you want to apply for scholarships, jobs, and future volunteer experiences.  It is important to get the information on paper right after the experience versus two years later, when people that were around when you volunteered are no longer able to assist.

Find some time this summer to give back in at least one way.  Use your social media to track the event and to hopefully inspire others to get involved.