The stakes are high when it comes to attending college. Tuition fees cost thousands of dollars, and sometimes the end result is simply not worth it. Students that do not graduate or students that spend many more years at college than they planned end up losing an enormous amount of money. Worse yet, there are some students who graduate with so much debt, that they can spend up to half their working lives paying it back.
On the question of whether it is worthwhile to take this risk, one should consider if the price of attending a college directly correlates with the quality of the education there. Here’s what to look out for when selecting a college, especially if it comes with a big price tag.
Check the graduation rate
The national average graduation rate is around 60 percent in the USA, but this figure talks about how many students graduated within six years of starting college. It is a federal government reporting requirement for all colleges who award federal student aid to report their 6-year graduation rate, so finding these statistics should not be too difficult. There are many websites that compare the graduation rates of colleges, and these should be one of the first indicators as to whether a college is exemplary or not.
Another figure to look at is the freshman retention rate, which essentially shows how many freshmen drop out. Colleges with low dropout rates and high graduation rates tend to put more resources into their students to ensure that they graduate, which makes them more worthwhile to attend.
Look at the alumni
The alumni of a college can tell you a lot about it. If the college has very prominent alumni, the college is more likely to have given them the skills they need to succeed in life. If a college mentions their alumni in any information booklet or website, it shows that they follow up their graduates, which shows a certain level of commitment to their students.
What the alumni have to say about the college is also very important. If you know of people who attended that college, ask them about it, or put the question out to the internet on reliable forums. A great summary of what the alumni think about the college is often found in responses to surveys that are sent out to them, which the college often has in their possession. The most important thing to look for on that list is how relevant the alumni found their college courses.
Look at the majors
One of the reasons that college ends up costing so much is because students change majors and then have to attend more semesters. This isn’t always due to indecisiveness but can be because of prerequisites. For example, a college may require a student to take a math subject in order to do some biology subject in the next year and students don’t realize this, so they end up having to repeat a year and take the prerequisite course.
It is a good idea to map out your college journey before even going to college or better yet to find a college which doesn’t have a large number of prerequisites. Experts also suggest that students should pick majors according to what interests them and not necessarily what pays the best because they are more likely to stick with the major then.