Things Students Should Consider Before Going Away to College

Published Feb 17, 2009

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A college education can help you boost your earnings and achieve your dreams. However, college shouldn't be entered lightly. There are many things students should think about before going away to college. Here are six specific questions to consider and more than a dozen helpful resources to guide your next steps.

before college

1.) Are You Choosing the Right School?

Although it can be tempting to apply to all of the same schools as your friends, that path isn't the best way to choose a college. If you're using college as a springboard to a real career, it is essential that you choose a school or program that matches your needs, not those of your friends.

2.) Are You Choosing the Right Major?

Choosing the right major is as important as choosing the right school. Your major will determine what you study while you are in college and may even determine what you can and can't do with your degree once you graduatel. Although it is possible to change your major partway through your college career, you should try to narrow down your options before you go so you don't waste time or money studying something that will lead nowhere.

3.) Can You Afford It?

There are cheap colleges, mid-priced colleges and expensive colleges. Deciding which type of college you can afford before going away to that college is more important than most students realize. Unless you have rich parents or loads of scholarships, you are likely to come away with a significant amount of student debt--the average student graduates with $19,000 in debt. Be sure to crunch the numbers to determine what you can afford now and after graduation.

4.) Are You Prepared to Take Responsibility for Your Education?

College professors are different high school teachers--they won't cut you any slack. It will be up to you to take responsibility for your education and learn the material that is presented to you. If you aren't ready for that, then you're probably not ready for college.

5.) Where Are You Going to Live?

Choosing between on campus and off-campus living is a huge and difficult decision. Each option has benefits and drawbacks. Evaluate the pros and cons of each before arriving at college can save you a lot of problems.

6.) How Are You Going to Get Pocket Money?

Having pocket money once your tuition is paid is always nice. If your parents don't plan on helping you out in this department (and even if they do), you'll need to come up with a way to get your own cash. Just remember to be smart with your time--you'll need it to study.

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