Whether you are eighteen (18), twenty-seven (27), or even fifty-five (55), college is the key to creating a brighter future for you and your family. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 20.4 million students took the steps to a brighter future through higher education and are expected to attend American colleges and universities.
Although there are many hurdles to attending college, such as financial responsibilities, family responsibilities, or even finding the time to go back to school, there are solutions for all the problems you may face as a new or returning college student. The first obstacle is finding the right type of college for you. There are generally two types of college learning based schools: traditional and competency based.
The traditional based college learning consists of classes in the classroom and/or online with a set time frame to complete the classes, such as fall, spring and summer semesters. Traditional based learning is great for any individual who has the time to complete specific deadlines. Traditional based learning typically has a base tuition each individual must pay per semester. For example, West Virginia University is a traditional based college. For an undergraduate student, living at home with parents, the tuition cost for one semester (12 credit hours), is $4,788. (See more information at https://admissions.wvu.edu/cost-and-aid).
CCompetency-based learning allows for students to complete courses at their own pace with no set deadlines. This allows for working parents or individuals with busy schedules to complete courses either ahead of other students or take as long as they’d like to complete the program or degree. Competency-based learning is typically online-based courses. Generally, the quicker a student completes the program, the less money they will spend with competency-based learning. For example, Western Governors University is a competency-based school whose six-month term tuition is $3,335. (See more information at https://www.wgu.edu/financial-aid-tuition.html). Keep in mind that during a six (6) month term, students can complete as many classes as possible and accrue credit hours as indicated by the school but at traditional colleges, students can only complete the 12-18 credit hours per semester or term for which they enrolled. It is important for students to choose the school that works best for their schedule.
Once a student chooses the school that they are interested in, they can typically apply with an online application. Some schools require an application fee. While applying to the school of their choice, students typically must select a desired major and whether they want to reside on campus. It is important to remember that living on campus increases the cost to attend the school. Some colleges require freshman to live on campus regardless of the proximity of their parent’s residence to the college. Student-athletes are also typically required to live on campus regardless of parent’s residence. When living on campus, students may also purchase a meal plan to receive meals from the cafeteria while on campus.
When applying to the school, the student must have any and all official academic transcripts sent to the school as this is the information they will use to make admission and scholarship eligibility decisions. In addition to official transcripts, it is extremely important that students interested in college take the ACT or SAT and have their score sent to the school of their choice. Many high schools recommend taking the ACT the spring of your junior year because the content of the Math test includes topics some curricula do not cover before then. However, many juniors take their first ACT in the fall or winter. The ACT and SAT are offered several times a year. For further information on when the tests are offered, and steps to prepare, check out this article with great links to important information:
Choosing an educational path for your future is important. If college is the right path for you, there are ways to afford it. The next part in our series will explore the ways to pay for college. Make sure to visit the links on our Facebook page to a list of scholarship resources from the College Foundation of WV's website.