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Jun
29

Student Loans 101: Choosing a college, Part 1

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You’re graduating high school, you’ve filled out the FAFSA, and you’re ready for the next step with your education. There is one question, however.

What college are you going to?

That is something only you can answer. So here’s a few tips on what to think about as you start researching schools:

What kind of degree do you want?

You may not need or want a four-year degree. If you’re just adding to your education, a certificate may be enough. Jobs in the field you’re interested in may only need an associate’s (two-year) degree. Many colleges and universities may only offer bachelor’s or master’s degrees. A lot of career education schools offer only certificates or associate’s degrees.

What kind of environment do you want?

Schools can be in many different locales. There are plenty of good schools in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The location can affect both the culture of a school and what it can offer. For example, it could be tricky to earn an automotive associate’s degree at a school in a downtown highrise. Think about how much of a commute, if any, your schedule can handle. Online classes can also be an option. Decide if that works for you or if personal interaction will help more.

choosing a college

What are your priorities?

You’ll need to balance cost, quality, and time with whatever program you go into. A for-profit college and a state-supported community college may both have very good paralegal programs. The for-profit school may be more expensive, but the community college could be an hour and a half drive away. Decide what you can compromise on to reach your goals.

Where do you want to be?

This is especially important for those going for a four-year or graduate degree. Do you want to stay in your current location? Or would you want to try experiencing a new part of the state, or new part of the country, as you further your education?

What field are you going into?

Not all schools will focus on all fields. A career education school may have a great medical assistant program, but not much for IT. A college may score high with arts programs, but have a weaker engineering program. The schools are still good choices, just not for those fields.

All of these are among the criteria in ionMatch, a new service from iontuition.

Read Part 2 on choosing a college!

For information about the beneficial student loan management tools from iontution, we invite you to watch this short overview. Like what you see? Sign up for your account here!


Tom Wray

Tom Wray is all about the research, getting it right, and making it relevant. He’s got solid journalistic experience in all forms of content delivery – and he’s got his keyboard humming with what’s up and important for students, college admins, parents, employers and news junkies. Follow him on Twitter at @iontuition.

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