Making the Decision to Go to College

Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Going to college is one of the most important decisions a young person will make. If you know how to go about making the decision, you will be on the right road to college success.

Deciding Whether College Is Right For You

All through high school, Bruno knew he wanted to attend college. As the first person in his family to attend, he had little experience with picking a college. He thought long and hard about the things that interested him and began requesting information from colleges. His living room was filled to the rafters with college brochures and applications, and he had pages of notes from college websites.

Guidance counselors can be an excellent source of information in the college search process.
Student working with guidance counselor

Bruno knew that he was in over his head, so he made an appointment with his guidance counselor, Miss Judy, to discuss his options. One of the roles of the guidance counselor is to assist students with college and career decisions. Guidance counselors are highly educated and skilled advisers and great listeners who can help guide students in the right direction.

Bruno and Miss Judy had a long talk. The counselor asked Bruno a lot of questions, such as:

  • Why do you want to go to college?
  • Do you have a particular career in mind?
  • Do you have the time to commit to a degree program?
  • Will you have access to financial resources to cover the cost of college or repay loans?
  • Do you like face-to-face classes or would your rather complete courses online?

Bruno knew that he wanted to make his family proud by graduating with a four-year degree from a good university. He also knew that he wanted to one day be able to work in a high-paying job. But at this stage, he still didn't have a career in mind.

Once You Decide College Is Right, What's Next?

Making the decision to go to college is difficult enough. Once Bruno decided that college was right for him, Miss Judy suggested that Bruno do a few things to determine the best degree program for him.

  • Take a strengths and weaknesses assessment.
  • Choose a program of study.
  • Take an experiential inventory.

Miss Judy and Bruno decided that a strength/weakness assessment was in order. This kind of test can help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, and the data retrieved from this test may point the student in the right direction. By answering a series of questions, the assessment results can accurately describe the traits and personality type of the student and match the student with careers that might be a good fit.

Bruno's assessment revealed that he was excellent with people, enjoyed telling stories, and is very interested in the success and happiness of others. Miss Judy and Bruno then went through a list of several jobs that require those skills, including teacher, lawyer, and salesperson.

The assessment also calculated Bruno's weaknesses. It seems Bruno doesn't like to devote too much time to reading. He also doesn't know how many years he can commit to college because he works at a local graphic design studio to help contribute to his family's household expenses.

After analyzing the results and a few job descriptions, Bruno decided that an online degree in marketing would be right for him. He can study from home, so he will still have plenty of time to work. A marketing degree doesn't require as much time in school as a law degree, either. He can complete his education in about four years and be on his way to a great career.

Because Bruno already works, Miss Judy suggested that he draft an experiential inventory of his experience. An experiential inventory is a description of life experience and what you have learned and some colleges will offer you course credits based on an inventory like this. Bruno liked this idea, as it seemed like a good way to chisel off a few classes and finish up faster. A personal inventory is easy, too--many colleges offer a template to use. The assessment generally asks about:

  • Prior college credits earned
  • Certifications or licenses issued
  • Years of work experience

Bruno loved the idea of writing about his experience. After all, he currently works in a graphic design studio creating logos. He also has a certificate in logo design from company training he attended. This experience should count for something toward his marketing degree credits.

Once he figured out what type of program worked for him and what he wanted to study, Miss Judy asked Bruno to think about how he was going to pay for his education. She explained there are many different types of financial aid available to help students pay for school.

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