What do you want to be when you grow up? Regardless if you’re just graduating high school or you did so 20 years ago, that phrase makes everyone cringe and roll their eyes. It’s still a good question though. Nearly every option after high school is going to involve some type of education and training. It won’t matter if you want to be a doctor or a mechanic, there will be more school in your future.
As a senior or especially as a junior, this is the perfect time to figure out what you want to do, where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. No university, community college or trade school is going to be a perfect fit, but planning ahead will help you pick one that meets your needs and perhaps even exceeds your expectations.
Students and parents need to consider the individual educational record, abilities, and personal interests to help pick out a school. Goals both short-term and long-term need to be considered. Picking out a course of study will directly affect how long students stay in school, where they’ll go afterward and how much they’ll make. The wrong decisions at this step in the career planning process will waste thousands of dollars and years of study.
If meeting tuition isn’t the primary concern, then students and parents can pick a school and major based on just the numbers. If the grades are there and pre-med is the choice, then there is no reason not to pick out a school like Johns Hopkins or Mount Sinai. If financial help is going to be required, then looking for a school based on available scholarships or other financial aid may be the driving factor. Either way, parents and students are going to need a checklist
College Selection Tips
When the time comes, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for your college selection as it will have a large impact on the rest of your adult life. Here are our tips on how to plan ahead and choose the school that will best suit your need.
- When looking at potential colleges, make sure the school has a good academic program for your major. A school such a MIT may be a fine place to attend college for an engineer, but may not be the best choice for student looking to study psychology. Each school will have programs they are stronger in, and programs they are weaker in. Make sure to take this into consideration when making your final decision.
- Determine whether living close to home or going away to school are important to you. If geographic location is important, make that determination early on so you know where to begin your search.
- Never make your final college selection without visiting at least your top two or three choices. No matter how well you think you know a college or university, you can learn a lot (good or bad) by spending a few hours on campus, including whether or not the college feels like a good “fit” for you. Having family members accompany you on college visits is a great idea because it gives you extra “eyes and ears” and people with whom you can discuss your impressions.
- A college is not necessarily right for you because its name is familiar. That might seem pretty obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many students equate educational quality with name recognition.
- Investigate at least three or four colleges you know little or nothing about but offer the field(s) of study of interest to you, are appropriately selective for a students with your grades and SAT or ACT scores, and are located in geographic areas attractive to you. You have nothing to lose and you might make a great discovery. A little research and an open mind can greatly increase the odds that you make a good college choice.
- There are very few worse reasons to select a college than because your friends are going there. Choosing a college because your girlfriend or boyfriend is headed there is one of them. In fact, if there is a worse reason to choose a college, it escapes us.
- Do not rule out colleges early because of cost. Many colleges offer scholarships, financial aid, and tuition installment plans that make them far more affordable than they may first appear. You can’t/won’t know how much it will cost to attend a college until the very end of the process.
- Deadlines, whether for college applications, SAT or ACT registration, financial aid, scholarships, campus housing, etc. are not suggestions. Miss a deadline and you may find yourself in deep you-know-what. Write down on a calendar and adhere strictly to all deadlines.
- Don’t be afraid to apply to a few “reach schools”. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results if you are not entirely unrealistic. Then, apply to at least three colleges you like which are highly likely to admit you. Remember, choose these three colleges very carefully as they are the places where you are mostly likely to wind up. Finally, choose at least two “safety” colleges. Colleges to which you are virtually certain you will be admitted. Choosing “safety” schools they don’t really like is a mistake many students make. If you take the time to choose safety schools you would be happy to attend, you’ll eliminate all the anxiety some students experience in the college application and admissions process.
- When it is time to make your final choice, discuss your options with your family, your counselor (if you have one), and others who know you well and whose judgment you value. If you have a tough time choosing among two or more colleges or universities it is probably because you have done a good job putting together your list and you will be happy at whichever institution you choose. Once you make your choice, don’t agonize over it. If you have followed these rules there is an excellent chance your final college choice will be a good one.
Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
SoFi: Fixed rates from 3.890% APR to 8.074% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.550% APR to 7.115% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.550% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.50% plus 0.04% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.