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5 Top Considerations for Your Dream School (2 min read)

By Diamante Ortiz - The Young Women’s Leadership School of Brooklyn - NextGenVest Club President - Brooklyn, NY

As a junior in high school, I’ve grown to realize this can be a pretty stressful time due laying out the groundwork for your future, beginning with your choice of college. You want to pick a school that you fit in with, offers the major you want to pursue, and can help catapult your career without bankrupting your family. Here are four considerations that can help you narrow down the potential dream schools for you.

1) Do The Financial Number Crunching. 

In 2013, college graduates left school with an average student loan debt of $28,400 per borrower. The majority of seniors, 69% to be exact, are now graduating with debt and a diploma. Take into account high interest rates and low entry-level salaries, and young people are being sent off into the world with the financial odds stacked against them. Avoid this money pitfal by doing the math at the very beginning. Most university websites have an average cost per semester (or year) breakdown, including tuition, fees, dorming, books, medical insurance, and living expenses.  Multiply this number by four and subtract any scholarships , awards, or financial aid you'll be receiving. Is the resulting figure still menacing? If so, you should probably reconsider that option. Find out just how much a student loan will cost you on the Sallie Mae Student Loan Repayment Calculator and learn more about student loans with the Student Loans 101 NextGenVest Course.

2) Consider The WHERE.

Determine the type of surroundings you would like to spend four years in. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you yearning for the hustle and bustle of city life or would you prefer the college town feel of a more remote campus?
  • What is the cost of living? PROTIP: Google a few nearby restaurants at your dream school and compare the cost of a burger at each one. 
  • Are you close to future employers?: Will you have access to people or companies that you will be able to network with and get internships from easily? 

3) Talk To Current Students About Expectations vs. Reality. 

You got in, great! Campus tours offer a wonderful opportunity to speak with current students while exploring your potential pick. When touring, take this opportunity and ask the student tour guide what their experience has been versus their own expectations. Brochures and websites can be very informative but it’s those personal experiences that only current students can share that give real insight into what life at that university is like. You can use NGV College Fellow Deep Dives as a personal resource!

4) Yes Or No: Do They Have Your Major?

Always check beforehand if a school offers the major or program you’re interested in. It is a terrible feeling to fall in love with a campus and its surroundings only to find out they don’t offer your major. Keep in mind the reason you are going to college - to pursue an EDUCATION. If a school cannot give you the kind you need to actually get a job, it’s not the one for you.

5) Reach Or Realistic?

If you’re worried that your test scores may negatively affect your chances of being accepted, research what the school is known for placing the most importance in. There are certain universities that look at the overall student as opposed to primarily test scores. Knowing whether a school is a reach or a realistic option will help you better plan and complete the college application - and eventual selection - process. Find out by asking one of our NGV College Fellows at our upcoming NGV Deep Dive - RSVP Here!

Follow Diamante's NGV chapter on Instagram at @NGVTYWLS.

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