Visits help students find the college of their choice

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON
After taking their ACT test and visiting with college reps, students can start looking more closely at colleges.

Selecting a college will be easier for students who know what their major will be.

?I don?t think it?s necessarily important to know the exact job,? said Diana Holub, high school counselor. ?But I think it?s important to know an area you?re interested in.?

Holub can help students determine their interests through a ?Choices? computer program.

?I have some students who still don?t know what they want to do,? Holub said.

She said although majors play a big factor is choosing a school, students could get by going to any school for one or two years. But some majors require specific core classes as well.

Once students have narrowed their choices for a major, they need to see what colleges offer those programs and start visiting campuses.

Holub recommends students visit a few colleges to compare the programs and different aspects of the colleges. Students have to be sure they are comparing similar schools.

?You cannot look at a viewbook or listen to a college rep and know everything about that school,? Holub said. ?You can tell the minute you step out of the car and walk on that campus, you get a feel for the environment of that school.?

Some schools may seem more friendly than others and campuses and classes vary in size.

?Our students are not used to seeing 1,000 students sitting in a lecture hall,? Holub said.

It is important for students to be aware of the situation they will be getting into.

?They become just numbers and they are not used to that,? she said. ?That doesn?t mean our students can?t handle it.?

To help students get the most out of their campus visits, Holub compiled a list of questions they should ask and an evaluation sheet for the visit.

Those questions include such areas as housing, financial aid, student life and academics.

When considering housing, Holub recommends students look at all of the dorms because the one they are shown usually will be the nicest one.

Holub said it is important for parents to be present when financial aid is discussed.

?I tell students it is OK if you want to go by yourself, but you must take your parents on college visits because they are paying the bill,? Holub said.

She said it is also helpful to take parents along on visits if the student and parents don?t agree on a college.

?The only way you are going to compromise is to invite them along and show them why you want to go to this school and don?t want to go to that school,? Holub said.

Holub suggests students to start at the school their parents want then transfer after completing the general education courses.

Another aspect of college is student life. Students should check into activities and organization, such as sororities and fraternities, when making a final decision.

A major factor in choosing the right college is academics.

Holub recommends students look at class size, student-teacher ratio, availability of instructors, whether classes are taught by professors or by grad students and, if the instructor is foreign, whether a language barrier will exist.

Students also should look at the average ACT score at the college to make sure they won?t struggle in classes. Another thing to look at is the graduation and employment rate of students who have the same major the student is interested in.

To ensure students see all of the necessary departments of colleges, the school sets up the visits and appointments.

?We encourage our juniors to take college visits,? Holub said.

HHS gives juniors one day and seniors two days to visit colleges, but more days can be arranged if needed.

To expose students to different kinds of colleges, HHS takes students on trips to several schools.

In the eighth grade, students take a field trip to K-State Salina and Salina Vo-Tech.

During their freshman year, students go to the Flint Hills Vocational Technical School in Emporia and Emporia State University. During their sophomore year, students visit Tabor College.

After visiting colleges, students can start filling out applications for admission, scholarships and financial aid.

Holub said the earlier students apply for scholarships, the larger the amounts awarded. ?I encourage students to do as much as possible first semester,? she said.

Holub encourages students to bring in their applications so she can look over them and be sure everything is included. She also makes copies of the material in case it gets lost in the mail.

Deadlines for applications vary from college to college, so students should check with the colleges they are interested in.

Holub said students should apply to more than one school because if they put all of their eggs in one basket and it doesn?t work out, they may have missed opportunities for money at other schools.

Holub has information on most state colleges and can get information on out-of-state colleges. She puts information about scholarships in the weekly newsletter.

?You have to be aggressive and pick up the forms,? Holub said.

Holub also feels it is important for parents to be involved throughout the process.

?Parents have to be aggressive and push their kids,? Holub said.

She said parents need to set deadlines for students to fill out forms and talk to students about what they want to do.

Holub said she doesn?t feel it is necessary for students to attend a four-year college. She said only 15 to 20 percent of jobs require a four-year degree and the rest of the jobs require one to two years? training beyond high school. She is seeing more students going the junior college route.

Holub said a student?s choice on which school to attend depends on what the student wants to do with their life.

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