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The College Train

Advice on how to get to college.

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Decisions

Advice for how to make the tough college-related decisions.

The Basic Cost of College

With tuition constantly on the rise and scholarship requirements rising with it, cost is becoming the deciding factor in choosing a college. But most students are comparing prices incorrectly. They are only comparing the price of tuition when really the basic cost of college consists of tuition, room & board, fees, and books. These are the costs that will occur every semester and the sum of these expenses will give you a better idea of the cost of your college education.

Not taking all these costs into account when choosing a college is how you go into debt. I know several people who had scholarships that paid for their tuition, but they went into over $10,000 worth of debt because they didn’t have the funds for room & board and fees.

You can easily find estimates and exact prices for these expenses online or in the college brochure. Books are the only cost you can don’t have to research and will be the same no matter where you go. (Thank you, Amazon and Chegg!) Also if you plan to attend college near your home and commute, don’t put your room & board costs as $0. Instead put in amount of gas money you will need.

Below is an example of the best way to compare with college is cheaper and how much money you need to finance college.

School Tuition Fees Dorm option #1 Dorm option #2 Total cost with dorm #1 Total cost with dorm #2
A College $30,000 $500 $2,000 $3,500 $32,500 $34,000
B University $5,500 $600 $4,000 $1,500 $10,100 $7,600
University of C $6000 $500 $3,000 $2,500 $9,500 $9,000

Now go forth and make better informed decisions.

Planning to Transfer?

To save money, many students are opting to attend community college for two years then transferring to a four year university. Or maybe you think you may transfer from one four year university to another. Or maybe you are thinking about taking summer classes at another college. Whatever your transfer plans, here are somethings to keep in mind.

  • Make sure all the credits transfer. Not all college classes are created equal. Class name and class content can vary from college to college. The transferring college may not accept all or any of your credits. Be sure find a transfer credit chart on the transfer school’s website. That chart will tell you what classes will transfer from any school.
  • Make sure you’re taking the right classes. To maximize your time and money at the first college, look at the academic program at the second college. You don’t want to take classes you don’t need or extend your graduation date by not as many classes as you possible can.
  • Look for scholarships for transfer students. Transferring colleges have become more and more common. To adapt to this, some colleges are offering transfer students more scholarships. Be sure to look at the college’s scholarship page months before transferring.
  • Know how transfer credits affect your GPA. Transfer credits may not be like normal credits. Whether you get an A, B, or C in a class, may not matter. The transfer school may accept the credit, but the grade may not help or hurt your GPA.

These are all things you need to keep in mind when considering transferring schools. All these factors can easily be figured out with a visit to the transfer school website or by setting up a meeting with an advisor at the transfer school.

Finding and Picking a College Major (Idea #2)

Picking a college major is the first step towards picking a college. With that being said, it’s hard. It’s hard to go from being told what to study to getting to choose what to study. It’s hard to decide what you do I want to study to get a job in after college. But fear not! I am here to give you suggestions on how to find and pick a major.

Take a personality quiz. You can do this online for free.

My personal favorite is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I have never meet a person, who didn’t find his or her results scary accurate. You will get a four-letter result and with that results you can look suggested careers for your personality.

If you don’t like the suggested careers but you feel the results accurately describe your personality and who you are, use the strengths, weaknesses, and traits to perform the first idea for finding and picking a major.

Keep in mind you don’t have to choose your major before you go to college. You can go to college as an undecided major and take classes in areas you think you want to major in without committing. Also you can change your mind. Picking a major is not signing a contract in blood you can change your major if you decided you don’t like it.

Finding and Picking a College Major (Idea #1)

Picking a college major is the first step towards picking a college. With that being said, it’s hard. It’s hard to go from being told what to study to getting to choose what to study. It’s hard to decide what you do I want to study to get a job in after college. But fear not! I am here to give you suggestions on how to find and pick a major.

Make a list of things you are good at. These can be subjects, skills, or activities. Anything you think you do well or other people have told you do well. Now go through that list and put a star or marked the things you are good at and enjoy.

Then go to Google and look up “majors that involve…” or “majors for people who are good at…” Start with the items you have starred, but don’t forget everything else. Research the majors and suggestions Google gives you. You may find something that you really interested in.

Keep in mind you don’t have to choose your major before you go to college. You can go to college as an undecided major and take classes in areas you think you want to major in without committing. Also you can change your mind. Picking a major is not signing a contract in blood you can change your major if you decided you don’t like it.

What is an Undecided Major?

Do you know what you are going to major in? No. Have you thought of being an undecided major?

An undecided major is exactly how it sounds. You are basically tell the college or university “I don’t know what I want to major in, but I know I want to be in college.” You will take all your general education courses and any introduction courses in majors you think you are interested in. You may also be required or asked to take personality and strengths test to help you to determine the major that best suit you.

You can be an undecided major for two years before you are asked to pick a major. Most undecided majors I have met pick a major after one year. Also most undecided majors I have met still graduated in four years.

Why is being an undecided major better than declaring a major then changing it if you don’t like it?

Changing your major is easier for some people than others. There can be some emotional factors in the decision that you didn’t expect. Disappointing family. Realizing you like the idea of being a doctor (or whatever your career will be) not the coursework or the work. Fear of not being as financially independent as you would like to be. These are all reasons people hesitate to change their major. Outside of these reasons, the only thing stopping you from changing your major is one page of paperwork.

Also not all degree plans are created equal. All your classes may not transfer to your new degree plan especially if you switch to a polar opposite major (like from chemistry to music). There are differences in every major those difference can cost you more credit hours, more money, and more time in college.

If you are unsure of what to major in, consider entering college as a undecided major.

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