CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

April 20, 2011

College Confusion by Laura Weaver


The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Laura Weaver

Cullman High School



College Confusion

The deciding factors to determine your future college



The end of the 2010-2011 school year is drawing nearer with each day. For some students, it may just be another year under their belt, but for the majority of the senior class, it will be the beginning of a new experience--college. By now, many have decided where they will attend and have moved on to planning for housing arrangements, paying the upcoming fees, etc. Many have known where they have wanted to attend since they were little, while others go wherever the best scholarships are offered. Others may go somewhere close to home or the place with the cheapest tuition. But the question is this: Which factors are most important in deciding the best place to attend college? Let me tell you the account of my personal experience with this situation.

My family is full of die-hard Auburn fans. I attended all of the home games with my grandma in my childhood which made me fall in love with the campus immediately. I grew up thinking that would be where I would attend whenever I graduated, but as I entered senior year, I had a reality check. I was encouraged to apply to more colleges besides Auburn by Mrs. Bishop-Hollis and my parents. I made a list of all possibilities of places that would be my 2nd, 3rd, ... choices and hurried to apply at all places before the December 1st deadline. As the letters of acceptance came in, I ruled out and narrowed down my choices to four options: Auburn, Troy, Jacksonville State, and Samford. I was trying to keep an open mind, but in the back of my mind, Auburn was where I really wanted to attend. Soon after the letters of acceptance, the scholarship awards began to come. First came Troy, offering the second largest scholarship of the four. Next was Jacksonville State, offering a few hundred more dollars than Troy and barely pulling into the top spot for scholarships. My Auburn scholarship letter soon came, but it offered a lot less money than the other colleges. Finally, Samford sent a letter that offered more money than Auburn but less than the other two. After all of my scholarship letters had arrived, I started to doubt my choice of attending Auburn. Since my parents are paying for my college, I began to wonder if it would be selfish of me to go somewhere simply because I liked the campus more. Next, I decided to schedule college visits and see what the campuses were like. I ruled out Jacksonville State because I did not feel comfortable at the campus and the drive from Cullman seemed long and made me very carsick. I was very impressed with the Samford campus and felt very comfortable there. However, the fact that Samford only offered the 3rd best scholarship bothered me. When I visited Troy, I loved the campus almost as much as I loved Auburn’s. It had a very small-town feel and the campus was very easy to navigate. Since Troy was in 2nd place as far as scholarships go, I decided that I would look more into going to college there. I compared the pros and cons between Auburn and Troy. I decided that I would make it easier on my parents and came to a compromise. I decided that I would attend Troy for 1-2 years and transfer to Auburn for the last two. Getting that best of both worlds proved beneficial overall in my personal situation.

    

As you can see, many factors went into deciding where the best place for college would be. In a nutshell, these points are helpful to remember when deciding which college is best for you:



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COUNTDOWN TO COLLEGE

Be sure to stay on top of things by meeting these deadlines:

AUGUST-NOVEMBER:

   -Submit all applications for colleges. Early bird gets the worm!

   -Request that your transcripts and ACT scores be mailed to the      

     Admission’s Office.

   -Schedule private visits to possibilities of campuses you may

     want to attend.

DECEMBER:

    -December 1st is the deadline to apply for most colleges! Apply

      early so that you are not stressing the night before.

    -Look for scholarships to apply for. Every little bit helps!

JANUARY:

     -Make preparations to apply for financial aid. Filling out a FAFSA  

       form can bring in money that will help out in many areas.

     -Keep looking for other scholarships to apply for. Every little bit

       helps.

     -Apply for housing ASAP to get first choice on where you will live!

MARCH:

      -Many scholarship deadlines are in March. Make sure you apply

        early and don’t let them pass!

      -Check into student loans and keep looking for financial aid!

      -Enjoy your LAST spring break!

      -Make more visits to your future college to get accustomed to it.

APRIL - JULY:

      -Submit your medical history forms to your college.

      -Pay any fees due - including housing, orientation, etc.

      -Register for your school’s orientation.

      -Request final transcripts from the guidance office to be mailed to

        your college.

      - Get ready to start your new school in August!





DECIDING FACTORS OF CHOOSING YOUR COLLEGE

> Pick the best college that offers the best

    curriculum for your major.

>Which college will cost you less in the long run?

   Costs will add up over time.

>Pick a college with a campus that is relaxed and

   makes you feel at home. You will be spending lots

    of time there!

>Also, an easy drive will make it more comfortable

   to commute back and forth to home.

>Take housing into consideration as well. Make

   sure that dorms are in acceptable condition to live

   in.