What to Consider
When Picking
A College

  • Do you want to leave home to attend college? Or, do you have family ties or job obligations that keep you close to home? If so, what colleges are nearby? Do they offer the courses you want?
  • If your dream is to live on campus during college, be part of a large student body, and compete with students from all walks of life, then a four-year mainstream college may be the answer for you. (By mainstream, we mean a college or university that services the general population.) If not, you may want to consider a smaller community college or tribal college.
  • A two-year community college is usually less expensive and more flexible in its admissions policies than a four-year university. On the other hand, the university will offer more advanced coursework, and you may find it has a more challenging environment. Of course, you can always take a tiered approach to college by starting at a community college and then transferring to the four-year university later. Also, keep in mind that if you go to an in-state public college or university, you will pay less (often much less) tuition than if you go out of state. A private school is usually much more expensive than a public school, although some students get enough financial aid to make up for the difference in cost.

What to Consider When Picking A College?

  • Are online courses the right option for you? Online classes offer some advantages. You can set your own schedule—you still have to turn in assignments on time, but as the ads say, "you can work in your pajamas." Still, online courses have their cons too. In addition to needing a good computer, you'll probably need high-speed Internet, which can be costly. Also, there's little social interaction and instructor feedback is slower than raising your hand in class and getting an immediate answer. Lastly, you must be disciplined and have good study skills. Learning at home can be convenient, but it's easy to postpone taking your courses and completing assignments until you run out of time
  • If the career you've chosen involves technical training, you may decide to go to a technical or business school instead of college. Keep in mind, however, that some technical schools are almost as expensive as college. It's also very important to check out a technical school's credentials and job-placement success because these schools vary widely in quality.
  • If you want to attend a school that's geared specifically to the needs of American Indian students, you may wish to consider a tribal college.
  • After narrowing down your choices, call, e-mail, or write each school for information. Or, ask your high school guidance counselor for the information you need. If possible, visit your top college choices and talk to students on campus to see which school feels right for you. To organize your thoughts and the information that each school provides, consider using the Researching Colleges form.