Choosing a College

student planning visitSome students know from an early age exactly which college they plan to attend and they never waver! Others are not so sure they even want to attend college. Many students are open to looking at all options and would appreciate help narrowing down their choices. Choosing a college is not a decision lightly made and many agonize over this decision, yet armed with the right questions, the fields can be narrowed down to two or three top choices by a student’s junior year in high school.

Below is a list of questions to consider when choosing a college. Following this list of questions will be a suggested time-line of events for high school students who are headed to college and, lastly, when you are visiting colleges, a list of suggestions is included to make the most out of student making listyour visit.

Depending on how many colleges your student is considering, it may be worthwhile to set up a spread sheet with each category listed in columns to easily compare information acquired.

Questions to help narrow the list:

  • Does the college offer the intended major? (If the student is undecided then find out of the college offers career counseling to help the student choose a major.)
  • What is the size of the college? Number of students? Student to faculty ratio? (Your student may know whether they prefer a smaller college or a large university. If they are not sure, include colleges of all sizes in your original list as long as they fit the other criteria.)
  • Secular or Christian? If Christian, which denomination or is it non-denominational?
  • If Christian, is church required? Chapel offered? Dress code? Curfews?
  • What is the housing situation? Are there dorms and, if so, what are they like? Are students required to live on campus? What are the room and board costs?
  • What scholarships are offered and do they stack? Academic, athletic, music, theater, sibling, ministry, need based, out-of-state, etc.
  • Does the college host specific scholarship events? (Bryan College hosts a scholarship event each semester for seniors who have been accepted and who qualify. An additional $500 to $2,000 is offered and, the winner of an essay contest receives full tuition.)
  • Does the college require testing for either admission or merit scholarship?
  • Which tests does the college accept? SAT, ACT, and/or CLT? Do they super score?
  • Are there unique opportunities? ( For instance, Bryan College offers a tuition free master’s degree to students who attend Bryan College out of high school and graduate with a 3.5 GPA.)
  • Does the college host specific and/or personal visit days and, if so, how does one register for a visit?
  • What is the cost for tuition, room and board?
  • Does the college accept federal funding? Military benefits?
  • Is there a difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition? If in-state is lower, is it worth having the student become a resident of that state either before attending or while attending?
  • For students who plan to attend an in-state college, are there state grants for which the student is qualified? (In Tennessee there are several grants that provide money for college, but students must plan ahead in order to qualify.)

Time-line of events (flexible depending on the goals and schedules of each family)

Ninth  and tenth grade:student goals

  • Begin discussing areas of interest and majors which pertain to those interests.
  • Take the CLT10 (offered 2 or 3 times a year).
  • Take the PSAT in October as practice.
  • Begin discussing college options.
  • Discover in-state grant opportunities.
  • Attend college fairs.

Eleventh grade:

  • Take the PSAT in October for possible National Merit Scholarship.
  • Take either (or all) the ACT, SAT, or CLT exam. More about testing here.
  • Attend college fairs.
  • Begin narrowing college choices and find out if they super score exams.
  • Begin visiting colleges.
  • Consider dual enrolling.
  • Raise test scores by taking prep courses and take practice tests.

Twelfth grade:

  • Attend college fairs.
  • Continue visiting colleges.
  • Apply to top college choices.
  • Apply for state grants and independent scholarships.
  • Take part in scholarship opportunities.
  • Fill out the FAFSA October 1st, or soon thereafter
  • Attend scholarship events

25659875_1917257178288593_1346852226346834466_nCollege visits:  The best time to visit a campus is when classes are in session, but try to avoid exam week, if possible. You can visit when classes are out of session, but the visit will be better if that can be avoided. Being on campus while students are on campus and being able to sit in on classes are experiences that weigh heavily on the decision making process. In order to make the most of a college visit, call the department of admissions and find out if the college has a visit coordinator on campus. Ask when the visit days are available (you may be able to find this information on the college website). Ask to attend classes and talk with faculty. Tour the campus. Eat in the cafeteria. Observe current students and, if you have the opportunity, stop and talk to the students. Meet with the admissions office and financial aid. Ask about the application process and scholarship opportunities. Be prepared with questions to ask so you get all the information you need.

Additional opportunities to consider: Many colleges offer sports camps, fine arts workshops, conferences, concerts, talent shows, plays, and summer camps. If one of the colleges your student is interested in offers an opportunity that resonates with your student, sign them up and get them on campus! What better way to get a real feel of what it’s like to be at the college, then to attend an event on campus? Students who attend camps during the summer often meet their future roommates! Bryan College offers all of the opportunities mentioned including a Summer Institute that highlights four academic tracks!

With proper planning and purpose, finding a college does not have to be overwhelming or stressful. If Bryan College fits your needs, we would love to have you come and visit! Happy hunting! 


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