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What College is Best for You?


As a long time college administrator, high school counselor, and tenured professor, I have advised many students and families on how to identify what college would work best for them. Researching colleges, especially if you are unfamiliar with the intricacies of higher education, can be a very daunting task. There are hundreds of colleges in all shapes and forms vying to get your business all stating to be the best in what they do – educating students. The key is finding the right fit.

The first step in this grand feat is to complete a college preference assessment that will identify what is important to your child during his/her college years. In my practice, I give my clients a questionnaire to help narrow down what colleges would be best for them. The questionnaire asks about culture, size of institution, student activities, geographical preferences, academic programs, study abroad, religious preference, housing, etc. After reviewing this extensive questionnaire, I can narrow down colleges that best fit the client.

Another major aspect of selecting a college besides the college preference assessment, is the client’s career pathway. What the client would like to do professionally has a huge influence on what colleges I will suggest for him/her. For example, if the client wants to be a petroleum engineer, then it’s important that the college of choice has an excellent engineering program that specializes in petroleum. Some colleges are what are called Liberal Arts colleges, which offer a general breadth of courses and degrees, whereas others, are more specialized, for example, in the sciences like Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Next week I will share more tips on College and Career Advisement. Please feel free to send me any questions you would like me to address in the column or to assist you personally.

Question From Our Readers:

I am a Canadian citizen living in California. My parents have dual citizenship, but I unfortunately do not so I have to pay international fees for my college education. It is very costly, and as a result, I might have to move back to Canada to complete my education even though my parents live in Northern California. Do you have any suggestions? Trisha Y.

This is a great question. Yes, out of state and international students do pay a lot more for their college tuition when attending a public college in California. In fact, due to the decrease in funding in California’s public colleges, these institutions prefer the out of state or international student to the California resident, which is not helping the California resident get into colleges that were created for them and of which they are funding through their taxes. An interesting situation that is evolving in California’s higher education system.

With that said, I would look into private colleges in California or elsewhere in the United States. These institutions have a lot more flexibility with their tuition, and many times you can negotiate your tuition costs to a lower amount. I remember working at a small Lutheran University where the advertised tuition was close to $40,000 per year, but rarely did a student pay this amount. The cost was discounted tremendously.

Most recently, I was working with a student who got accepted into law schools by both public and private colleges and it was the private college that discounted her tuition in return for her admission to the college; the public colleges stated there were no discounts or scholarship options available.

Private colleges are filling a niche that public colleges cannot fulfill in attracting those students who cannot afford the public college tuition with their flexible tuition rates. Private colleges’ budget is almost entirely depended on enrollment tuition so it is paramount these private institutions make their enrollments numbers even if it means substantially lowering their tuition.

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[ABOUT] Avenues is a full service college and career advisement firm for young students as well as adults looking for a career change. Services include college admittance assistance, international student assistance, educational planning starting as early as junior high to college graduation, career planning, scholarship and financial aid advisement, college success counseling, and tutoring for all ages. Contact or (818) 359-0859.

July 2, 2015

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