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Author Topic: Tips on Choosing a College?  (Read 3296 times)

Juni

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Tips on Choosing a College?
« on: August 06, 2013, 03:30:47 pm »
Those of you who know me may recall my struggles with post-secondary education, but after a lot of consideration I've decided to go back. I'm going to start with a local community college in either the spring or summer semester, and the plan is to transfer to a four-year college after I've gotten some credits under my belt.

And thus my difficulty: choosing said four-year college. I know what I want to major in (Classics) and I know the general area I want to be in (New England-ish), so I made a list of all the schools in those states that have a Classics major. It's 41.

Any tips on how to narrow this down? I made some terrible school choices the first time around, and I'd like to do better this time, but I'm not really sure what things I should be looking at- and the internet keeps throwing things like SAT scores and rankings at me, which... that's great, I guess, but doesn't do me much good.

Any help would be much appreciated! (Also applicable anecdotes!)
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Sage

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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2013, 03:35:02 pm »
Quote from: Juni;118140

Any tips on how to narrow this down? I made some terrible school choices the first time around, and I'd like to do better this time, but I'm not really sure what things I should be looking at- and the internet keeps throwing things like SAT scores and rankings at me, which... that's great, I guess, but doesn't do me much good.

Any help would be much appreciated! (Also applicable anecdotes!)

 
First questions: are you going full or part time? How often will you be on campus? Would you prefer a smaller liberal arts-y school, or a larger university?

What specifically in classics do you like? What areas interest you the most? Which academic books do you already own/have read, or which ones sound really interesting? This will help when you start looking at the folks who work in these departments and see what they study and teach, what they've read, things like that.
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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2013, 03:37:44 pm »
Quote from: Sage;118141
First questions: are you going full or part time? How often will you be on campus? Would you prefer a smaller liberal arts-y school, or a larger university?

What specifically in classics do you like? What areas interest you the most? Which academic books do you already own/have read, or which ones sound really interesting? This will help when you start looking at the folks who work in these departments and see what they study and teach, what they've read, things like that.

 
In addition to all this good advice, since it's New England, you probably also want to look at whether you'd prefer urban or rural. ;)
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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2013, 04:22:50 pm »
Quote from: Juni;118140

Any tips on how to narrow this down? I made some terrible school choices the first time around, and I'd like to do better this time, but I'm not really sure what things I should be looking at- and the internet keeps throwing things like SAT scores and rankings at me, which... that's great, I guess, but doesn't do me much good.

 
Urban vs. rural.

What support they have, and especially support for non-traditional students (which is to say, anyone who is not going direct from high school to college).

Take a look at things like access to computers, access to the library (hours, etc.) the kinds of materials the school's making available. (If you want to bounce me specific campuses in a PM or email, I am glad to peer at their library pages and make commentary.) Look at additional tutoring support - writing programs, support for specific classes that are known to be challenging, whatever. Even if you don't need those things, a school that invests in them is likely to be a school that's doing better at other kinds of support.

When looking at the Classics department, how broad a degree is it? How much stuff is required, vs. how much do  you have choice in? (some places, it's "You will take X, Y, and Z Latin classes, and A, B, and C Greek classes, and this intro class, and this seminar, and you can choose two others." Other places are "Here's the department, take some stuff including at least # upper level courses."

Similarly, what are the general education requirements like? How will your community college credits transfer? (Different schools have *highly* different policies: sometime you get credit for them, but the credit doesn't mean anything about getting exempted from some classes, etc.)

If you expect to live on campus, look at the kinds of places you might be living, at student organisations, etc. If you're not going to live on campus, look at what the options are there. (Does parking seem to be a pain? Can you live somewhere near enough to campus that meeting people to study/for a student group thing/etc. is a pain? I found in grad school that I lived just far enough away, and parking was just enough of a pain that I didn't do social stuff that might have been interesting, and I sort of regret that.)

And ask lots of questions about the specific stuff you're interested in - since you know the specific program you want, don't be afraid to ask if you can talk to someone in the Classics department once you narrow it down to a handful of most likely schools.
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Juni

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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2013, 11:22:13 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;118156


 
Thank you guys! I appreciate the help. (There's at least a few questions here that I have no idea how to answer, but hey, I'll figure it out, right?)
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Morag

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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2013, 12:44:45 am »
Quote from: Juni;118140
(Also applicable anecdotes!)

 
I have an anecdote.

When I decided to move back to BC from Hawaii, I transferred all my community college credits to the first school my mom suggested to me -- mainly because they didn't require any math credits for my degree. I was fully registered before I even set foot on the campus.

My mom and I went to see the campus the summer before I started. VIU is built in a coal-mining town. It is on a massive hillside. The campus is made of stairs and death.

I thought, ok, suck it up buttercup. So the school has a built-in stair-master work out with each course you take. So what.

This was before I was being honest with myself about my chronic pain, and over the course of the four years I spent at VIU I ended up getting sicker. At some point I got mono and just never made it to class at all, because the thought of getting up the hill to the campus was enough to put me to sleep. And then I got injured during a school trip, and my back pain got worse for 3 years before flaring up and leaving me, well, in the state I am now. Stairs and death? A lot stairsier and deathier when you have an injured spine.

Anyway. The thing to take from this anecdote is once you've got your list narrowed down to a few different schools, for the love of all that's holy tour the campuses before you make your final decision. Look at the campus set ups and be honest about how easy or difficult the say it's laid out will make it for you. Do not pull a Morag.

Campus layout is an oft-overlooked but very important part of choosing the school you're going to go to, especially if you have chronic pain, chronic illness, and/or mental illness like depression and anxiety. (F'ex, for me, if getting to class is a lot of physical work and I'm already having a bad day, mentally, I often just won't go.)

I hope that helped, and I wish you luck in your school-hunt, Juni. :)
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Laveth

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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2013, 10:34:55 am »
Quote from: Morag;118215
I have an anecdote.


Anyway. The thing to take from this anecdote is once you've got your list narrowed down to a few different schools, for the love of all that's holy tour the campuses before you make your final decision. Look at the campus set ups and be honest about how easy or difficult the say it's laid out will make it for you. Do not pull a Morag.

 
I agree with this whole-heartedly. Not just because it's important to take your bodily stresses into account, but also because the atmosphere that actually exists can be multitudes different than what the website and brochures are projecting. This will be a place you go to learn, and to maximize that you need to be comfortable in your environment.

So beyond the checking for the appropriate degree, accreditation, what kind of support they offer their students, tuition rates, program requirements, location, living accommodations, course scheduling, and all that fun stuff. Make sure that the environment itself is not going to completely disrupt your ability to learn.

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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2013, 10:55:51 am »
Quote from: Laveth;118265

So beyond the checking for the appropriate degree, accreditation, what kind of support they offer their students, tuition rates, program requirements, location, living accommodations, course scheduling, and all that fun stuff. Make sure that the environment itself is not going to completely disrupt your ability to learn.

 
Oh, yes. And look at what the rules for things are. I looked at a school which had, at the time, a 30 day guest policy. Which is problematic if your roommate wants a guest you're uncomfortable with - it's a lot harder to fuss if it's just "I don't like this" than "The policy is three days." or whatever.

(Whereas I went somewhere with a 3 day official policy, that was vastly more honoured in the breach than in the observance, but as long as the affected people (roommates, mostly) were fine, and the guest wasn't causing difficulty for others on the floor, no one cared much. But you still had that 3 days rule if there *was* a problem.)

But yes. Living conditions are a huge consideration, whether on campus or off.
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Re: Tips on Choosing a College?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2013, 10:59:20 am »
Quote from: Juni;118140


Any help would be much appreciated! (Also applicable anecdotes!)

 
I would say, especially since you have had some experience with this before. Make a list of "dealbreakers" if you will, things that would not make you ever want to deal with a certain school/environment. For example, if you hate a downtown like city feel, then don't got to a school downtown. I know, I know, totally basic example but don't be afraid to make this list more specific than that. You say that you want to study the classics, well what kind of learning method would you prefer a prof to use? Ask for outlines from classes if the profs will give you this and see how they stack up to what you want. Does the library have enough classics material for you to use or are you going to end up needing to use the Inter library Loan, do you want to deal with that, etc.

Really the number one thing I looked at when I went to college was which school was going to give me the most financial aid and wasn't a massive university. I actually kept bouncing back financial aid packages until I got the best deal. I made them work for me :D.

Also, if you do ever choose to join a greek society/sorority, don't be a roommate with the sloppiest sister you know...just trust me on this one. Good luck Juni!

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