FAQ: 4-Year Colleges and Universities

This information pertains to full-full college students and athletes who are pursing a bachelors degree and beyond.

How to choose a college

How to choose a college.

1. Following your best friend/boyfriend doesn't guarantee anything. My best friend and I chose the same college -- although ironically it wasn't to be together. Good thing too, we fell apart within months. Fast forward a decade and a half, and we say "happy birthday" on Facebook once a year. That's it.
2. Getting far from home isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's the dream of just about every kid, isn't it? But take it from someone who only went two hours from home ... when you have a raging case of bronchitis and want nothing more than to roll up in your own comforter in your own bed, it really stinks having to ride a bus for several hours and then hike to your mom's office with your suitcase. Sometimes close to home means close to comfort.
3. Don't knock the culture shock. A friend went from Connecticut to North Carolina for college and lasted all of one semester -- she just didn't feel comfortable in a culture that was so different from everything she'd ever known.
4. The biggest debt doesn't come from the biggest names. When you think college debt, you think the biggies, right? The private Ivies? Actually, a look at what class of 2011 grads owed shows that's not always the case -- you can have just as high, if not higher, a debt load graduating from a public university. Don't ignore private schools when you're searching -- they might offer better scholarships!
5. Big name schools don't guarantee you a better job. The debt load isn't all you need to consider when it comes to cost. What about after school. If you think the big name will guarantee you a job in this market, you've got another think coming.
6. It's OK to be undeclared. The average high schooler is 17 when they graduate. If you don't know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 17, you are COMPLETELY NORMAL. Don't lock yourself into something you're going to hate just because the college wants you to declare a major.
7. Community college is perfect for the undeclared major. If you can't make up your mind, don't spend $54,000 a year trying to figure it out. Just don't.
8. A gap year is OK. I keep beating that "I dunno" drum, don't I? Well, considering 46 percent of students who enter an American college fail to graduate within six years, there's a reason! Plenty of kids heading off to college are doing it because they think they should, not because they actually know what they want to do -- and in the long run that will backfire.
9. It's not worth it if you don't enjoy it. I'm not saying you will love getting up for every 8 a.m. chemistry class or taking every test. But there's intense pressure on kids these days to get into the best school possible and then to power through in as few semesters as possible. Slow down! These are the last years you really get to have FUN ... and yes, you can do that without showing up at every kegger. And if you can't, come home. Start over. Failure IS an option. And about that 8 a.m. class

What classes do I take?

What Classes Do I Take?

Because you are planning to go to college, it’s important that you take the right classes in high school.
Beginning in ninth grade, the majority of your classes should be ones that prepare you for admission to and, perhaps even more importantly, success in college.
Most admission officers tell you that the first thing they look at is your choice of classes—even before they look at grades. When it comes time to apply to college you want to make sure that you meet the admission criteria of all colleges in which you are interested. Always remember that it is much better to be “overprepared” than “underprepared.”
Here’s what you need by the end of your senior year to meet the admission expectations at a majority of colleges:
Four full years of English classes.
This includes courses in which you study writing and courses in which you read literature. Colleges know that you need to be able to write well in nearly every career. You need to be able to read and analyze, and you need to develop strong communication skills!
Four full years of math classes. Students who take math in each year of high school are far more successful in college than students taking only three years. Math is the tool that you will use for many other classes, especially those in science. Your math classes should include at least four of the following six classes:
Pre-algebra • Algebra • Geometry    • Algebra II and/or trigonometry    • Precalculus    • Calculus
Never “skip” a year of math in high school, because you will lose your momentum. If you don’t take math in your senior year, you will find the math classes required in college to be very difficult!
Three–four years of laboratory science classes. You will have the strongest background if you have taken at least one year each of:
•Biology • Chemistry • Physics
Two years minimum of social sciences. Most college freshmen studied World History and American History in high school. Other social science options include:
•Government • Sociology • Geography • Psychology
•Two–four years of world language.
More colleges are requiring a minimum of two years of language study while in
high school for admission. Because many colleges require students to study a second language, it is important that you expose yourself to the study of languages while in high school.
A small number of colleges require one year of visual or performing art prior to admission. Participation in these classes in high school can help you to develop a “special talent” that will make you a highly qualified applicant.
As a summary, most colleges require students to meet certain college prep curriculum standards.
Colleges may want to see advanced courses, such as honors and/or AP, that demonstrate the ability to succeed in higher levels of academics. Meeting the minimum isn’t the best way to prepare for college. Strong preparation means going beyond the minimum—allowing you to start your college career in college-level courses, not remedial courses that are designed to help you catch up or review high school material—for no credit!
Athletes: Work with your counselor and coaches to make sure that your classes meet the standards of the NCAA Clearinghouse. or the PlayNAIA.

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