affordable colleges

Can Affordable Colleges Come True or Remain an Elusive Dream

Finding affordable colleges is becoming more and more difficult, and it has become the norm for people to be paying for student loans for many years after graduation.

 

The cost of higher education is a deep problem in America, with skyrocketing student debts compounded with strained state budgets and ever-rising tuition. Government spending on higher education is also high, making the dream of affordable colleges more of a myth rather than a reality.

 

But it is possible to make college more affordable without the need to apply for loans and without compromising the quality of education. What needs to be done, however, requires a concerted effort from the colleges and the government.

 

Ways to Create Affordable Colleges

 

Make Sure Students Complete their Degrees Quickly

Statistics show that many students ultimately drop out before graduation and only 60% of undergraduates complete their bachelor’s degree within 6 years. This costs the country an enormous amount of money.

 

Cutting the time spent in college and eliminating the need to pay for more courses and credits are a great solution. The Southern New Hampshire University and BYU-Idaho are proof that such measures can help.

 

Rethink Teaching and Learning Models

The National Center for Academic Transformation championed a redesign of individual course delivery that resulted in 35% of average savings and improved educational outcomes, including course completion and attendance. If other institutions follow suit, affordable colleges will become the norm.

 

Give Credit for Outside-the-Classroom Experience

It is a fact that knowledge is earned and learned outside of the classroom. If given credit, it will take less time for adult students to complete their degree. This is especially true for post-secondary students over 25 whose work experiences and skills have a direct impact on their education.

 

Shave Non-Instructional Costs

Doing so will result in savings of 10-to-20% that can have a higher impact on colleges with non-instructional costs that hit the billion mark. Shrinking the cost of student services, management functions, and the like can mean more affordable higher education. Just think what students can do with a $100-to-$200 million in permanent savings from the $1 billion non-instructional costs.

 

Use Financial Aid as an Incentive

Tennessee and a few other pioneering states see a promising effect of funding on a college’s institutional performance. That is, schools with access to financial aid show higher graduation rates, more job placements, and other indicators of better institutional performance.

 

This shows that state and federal governments should consider and pursue incentives intended for programs or institutions that embrace similar changes. Support should also be provided to alternative funding sources that will help individuals pay for their education without drowning in debts.

 

 

Affordable colleges may not be common in America but making changes in certain areas could make them a dream come true. With some institutions already taking steps and showing success, colleges and universities in the rest of the country should do the same.

 

Are you looking for a college that is affordable with high-quality education? Find them through View Colleges Now.

college applications

Having a Strategy to Your College Applications

College applications are a big and time-consuming job, which is why you need to break it down into smaller steps to make applying to college easier on your part.

 

How do you make college applications stress free?

 

Prepare Early

As early as possible in high school, be sure you have an idea mapped out for applying to colleges. This means monitoring your GPA and the courses you take, along with extracurricular activities (like sports or clubs your school offers) that will make your applications stand out from the rest. Your high school counselor will be well-versed in what colleges are looking for, and if you already have a college you’d like to attend in mind, your counselor can suggest the best course of action to get there.

 

Choose the Best College or University for you

This can be done by looking deep into your strengths, interests, and goals to help you identify the school that will suit you academically, culturally, and financially.

 

Make Room for College Applications

Create a smart high school plan that outlines what courses to take and when you should take them. This way, you will have time to apply for college rather than stress on it later.

 

Take the ACT or SAT

Even if the college you have in mind is test-optional, submitting high scores on both tests will give you a competitive edge. If you prefer to take only one test, seek advice from a college counselor to identify which test will best showcase your strengths.

 

Take AP Classes and SAT Subject Tests

If you want to show your commitment to academic engagement, choose the right SAT Subject Tests and AP exams. Just make sure these classes don’t overwhelm your high school schedule.

 

Engage in the Right Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities play a role in college applications. What you do outside of class will show the kind of qualities you will bring to a college or university. Make sure to choose activities that will represent the real you and who you are beyond your grades and test scores.

 

Write the Perfect Application Essay

Most students have a hard time completing a college application essay. Avoid the same fate by consulting with college counselors who can help determine if your essay’s content showcases your unique qualities. They can help with grammar and style as well.

 

Ask for Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation are often used by competitive colleges to assess your character and goals. You can ask one from favorite teachers, coaches, after-school employers, and other potential recommenders. Make sure each one can best speak about your abilities.

 

Prepare for a College Interview

An interview with an alum or admissions representative is sometimes part of the college applications process. Make sure to prepare by anticipating questions and knowing what to wear and how to deal with interview jitters.

 

Decide Whether to Apply Early or Not

Many colleges offer an early deadline where applicants can submit their materials before the regular deadline. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of applying early for college before you do. Talk to your college counselor.

 

Last but not least, get college reviews from a reliable source.

 

View Colleges Now will provide you with correct and reliable information about the colleges you’re looking into without the need for you to visit each one, saving you time, and money.

 

We also provide a comprehensive guide to help you through your college applications. So sign up for View Colleges Now for free information on your favorite college today.

best colleges

Best Colleges for Your Major

Many students are very interested in what the best colleges are, but don’t always know what they want to study once they get there. Others have a pretty clear idea of the kind of career they want to pursue. Even then, feelings change with time, and it’s no surprise that many students will end up switching majors (or colleges) after freshman year.

 

Knowing your course of study is just part of the whole college application process. The college you go to, while offering fields of study in all majors, is many times known for having better programs in a few areas of study. It’s worth considering, as one school may be able to give you a better education in your field of study than another would.

 

A Google search for the best colleges for a particular major can be a good starting point in your search. Another is asking a professional working in the career you want for advice.

 

But if you still haven’t decided on what to take, hopefully this list of top college majors and the best universities for them can help you start:

 

 

Computer Science

 

We are living in a world that is more and more reliant on technology. A computer science degree can help you towards creating products and services for the digital age.

 

As a computer science major, you will not only learn about hardware and software, but you will also learn how to apply that knowledge. You will learn how to write code in different programming languages as well as learn about artificial intelligence and robotics.

 

Problem solving is one of the major skills required of a computer science major. You can expect to solve all sorts of problems when you get out into the real world. So if you have a knack for solving issues, you just might like studying for a degree in computer science.

 

Some of the best colleges for computer science are Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the California Institute of Technology.

 

 

Government/Political Science

 

A course of study that deals with government and political science looks not only at current events, but also reflects on the past. This can be quite the engaging course knowing just how everything in government and politics is ever changing.

 

As a student studying the politics of government, you will focus on key aspects such as political philosophy, public policy, foreign affairs, and comparative government. This course can help you develop critical thinking skills as well as communication skills.

 

You can expect a lot of reading, writing, and math (statistical analysis). The career choices after college are varied as well: you can be a journalist, a lawyer, and even a politician.

 

There are many great schools for studying political science, and some of the top colleges include Harvard University, Yale University, Georgetown University, Princeton University, and Bowdoin College.

 

English Language and Literature

 

A love of books and reading can be turned into a profession, and this degree can help you do just that. You will read works of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction from all over the world; but understand you’ll be put to the test, as you offer up your critical analysis of challenging text.

 

You can expect sharper critical thinking skills, as well as improved creative, emotional, and moral faculties after you’re done with the courses in this major. This degree can lead to careers in just about any field: publishing, journalism, and even law.

 

Harvard University, the University of California in Berkeley, and Columbia University are some of the best colleges for the study of the English language and literature.

 

 

Finding the best school for a particular major can be a subjective affair. If you’re really interested in pursuing a particular course of study, many times the choice of school can make all the difference. Your chances of succeeding become less likely if you don’t like the school for whatever reason, even if it’s at a prestigious university.

 

financial aid

Some of the Options You Have for College Financial Aid

Coming up with the money to pay for college can be a burden. It’s not a secret that getting a higher education can be expensive: it’s not just tuition that has to be paid for, but in most cases, resources are needed for room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and so much more. The good news is that there are different kinds of financial aid available to help pay for college.

 

Financial aid can come from the government (federal or state), the college you decide to attend, and non-profit or private organizations. Here is how to apply for college financial aid from these sources:

 

 

Aid from the Federal Government

 

The federal government offers several financial aid programs, which include

 

  • Grants – financial assistance that doesn’t need to be paid back, unless you withdraw from the school and therefore owe a refund

 

  • Loans – money is borrowed in order to pay for school and must be repaid with interest

 

  • Work-Study – this is a work program where money is earned to help with college expenses

 

The Department of Education in the US provides over $120 billion each year in federal student aid. This financial assistance covers expenses such as books and supplies, room and board, tuition and fees, and transportation. The money granted by the government can also help with related costs, such as care for dependents and computer costs.

 

Many schools across the US participate in various federal student aid programs. So you can ask or research the schools you’re interested in to see what they offer.

 

How to apply for college financial aid from the federal government? Just file the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA).

 

 

Aid from the State Government

 

The local government in the state where you live can also help with funding college. The types of financial aid offered includes grants, state loans, scholarships, work-study funds, and tuition assistance.

 

You can contact the financial aid agency in your state to learn more about what kind of assistance they have to offer. Your school’s financial aid counselor should also have an idea on the different state financial aid programs available to you.

 

 

Aid from the College You Are Attending

 

Many colleges use their own funds to provide financial assistance. As you search for possible schools to go to, don’t forget to check the financial aid page on their website. It will contain the information you need to apply for funding assistance. Alternatively, you can call up the financial aid office to inquire about more details.

 

Scholarships can also be offered in the department where you plan to take your course of study. So it also helps to check on that information on their site or give them a call.

 

Keep in mind that schools have certain requirements to be met before financial aid can be given out. They also have set deadlines, so make sure to meet them.

 

 

Aid from a Non-Profit or Private Organization

 

There are a number of organizations that can offer financial aid in the form of loans or scholarships. You can ask college financial aid offices for information or you can check the library. It also doesn’t hurt to use a search engine to find more information.

 

Going to college is a rewarding experience, but it can get costly real fast. Luckily, there are funding sources you can tap into to help you gain your higher education.

 

list colleges

Why the Name of the College You Go To Is Less Important than What You Do There

When you review colleges, do you put down the name of a prestigious institution just because it is deemed a “good school” by many? Did you know that getting an education from an Ivy League institution or any other prestigious school is not a guarantee of success? When you list colleges you have to take into account and realize that there is more to just being a graduate of a certain educational institution.

 

You may have a desire to get into a “good school” and rely on “rankings” of schools to determine which one is the best. But that shouldn’t be the way to go about things when you list colleges:

 

  • Not all graduates of prestigious institutions will find good jobs. It may be shocking to hear that a graduate from a so-called “good school” will have difficulty finding employment, but that much is true. Just because you graduated from a “good school” doesn’t always guarantee you a job – employers are looking for something more than just the name of your school.
  • Not all rankings consider the overall picture. Factors are considered in ranking an institution, but it doesn’t paint a complete picture. First-hand experience is different from merely looking at numbers.
  • Not all employers look at where you finished your college education. Yes, it’s great to get a degree from a prestigious university but that won’t help much if you have nothing else to offer. Some employers also look at character, skill, and fit during the hiring process. So graduating from a top-ranking school isn’t a guarantee of employment.

 

It’s important, when you list colleges, that you go over what your aspirations are and what kind of job you might be interested in after your four years. However, here are some things you can work on no matter what college you go to that might boost your chances of getting hired:

 

  1. Personal development

While it’s important to work on this while in school through participating in community events and getting involved in networking, it shouldn’t stop once you finish college. The desire to improve yourself should be a lifelong goal.

 

The path to personal development involves being open to try new things that could end up a success or a complete failure. It involves reflecting on those experiences to become increasingly aware of oneself.

 

  1. Becoming a team player

An office is filled with many different personalities and opinions, and you have to work together with these people to meet the goals of a company. A good test bed for interacting with different people is the school campus. Participating in student government, being an executive for a student organization, hosting or planning events, and participating in sports clubs are just a few things you can do to improve working with different personalities.

 

  1. Improve project management skills

Project management isn’t just useful in the office, but in life as well. This skill can be improved through participating in internships, being involved with student organizations, and leading new initiatives on campus.

 

Other things that you can work on include communication, productivity, and creativity – just to name a few.

 

What you do on campus should speak louder than the name of the school you went to. As you work on your education, keep trying to improve on critical skills that employers look for. Learning and improving those skills will be more valuable than where you graduated.

 

college applications process

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Your College Applications Process

While it helps to have a balance of good grades and volunteer work to get a spot at selective colleges, it’s not always a guarantee. Admissions counselors look for more than just accomplishments during the college applications process; they also want students to clearly state their interests and show their potential.

 

To avoid rejection, here are some common mistakes to avoid during the college applications process:

 

  1. Submitting an incomplete application

You’re not doing yourself any favors by submitting an application that is missing many required items. While some colleges might follow-up on those missing materials, an incomplete submission just delays the review process.

 

If you’re really interested in getting into a particular college, make sure to check their list of requirements then work on getting those completed and submitted before the submission deadline. Doing so ensures that your application will get reviewed during the college applications process.

 

 

  1. Applying to a school that clashes with plans

The plan you laid out for your studies and career is bound to change. It’s for that very reason you should really understand the mission of the college you want to apply to and how they can help you meet your goals.

 

What this means is that you should do research on the institution to make sure it’s the one you really want to go to. It would make little sense for you to attend a school that doesn’t offer the major you want.

 

Make a list of possible colleges that cater to your interests, then do in-depth research on them so you can better decide for your future.

 

  1. Sending an error-ridden application

Yes, some admissions officers are willing to overlook minor mistakes, but an application that is just filled with a range of errors isn’t a good look for you. That sends a signal to admissions that you aren’t serious or don’t possess the necessary skill set to succeed at their institution.

 

You can go over your application multiple times during the application process to ensure that it is free from errors. An even better solution is to have different sets of eyes look into your application for any glaring mistakes.

 

  1. Having a history of bad behavior

Character is a trait many colleges and universities scrutinize and a history with suspensions and similar matters raise red flags. It’s true that some institutions are willing to accept students with minor issues like tardiness, a history of being disruptive in class might have a more negative impact.

 

What students with suspension records can do on their application is explain what happened during those incidents.

 

  1. Missing the mark

You really have to submit the best applications possible for a chance at admission into your preferred college or university. Keep in mind that some selective institutions only accept a certain number of students, and your application will get rejected if it doesn’t contain the elements for their institution.

 

In short, you really have to come up with a narrative that clearly states your aspirations and academic interests; one that complements the test scores in a specific subject area.

 

top colleges

What Do the Top Colleges Have In Common?

If you do an annual search for the top colleges each year or keep close attention to “the best” lists, you will notice a familiar pattern. Many of the names at the top of the lists are elite institutions with a population that is mostly comprised of affluent students.

 

But is wealth all that connects all the best universities across the US? Here are some of the factors that go into picking a top educational institution:

 

Quality academics

Every student wants to get the best education possible. Although there are top schools that have brilliant academic staff who can impart their knowledge to students, it’s not a secret that a number of prestigious institutions are able to easily attract the best minds in the world.

 

Forbes’ list of the top colleges in America released in August 2017 also showed a rise in ranking for STEM and research-oriented institutions. Educational institutions like Massachusetts Institute of Technology have always ranked high, but a number of other institutions that also specialize in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics have jumped higher in the list.

 

While elite educational institutions will clearly rank high in “best of” lists, there are still non-Ivy League schools that provide quality academics.

 

Academic reputation

A job-seeking graduate’s chances of getting hired will be higher when they finished their education from a top-ranking institution. Top leaders in America, both in business and politics, went to elite private institutions.

 

But just because a very public figure graduated from a notable institution doesn’t paint a complete picture of their capabilities or the school’s quality.

 

Research citations are also a factor in boosting a school’s reputation. There’s an advantage when research work is cited by other researchers. But this also limits the field to colleges that are research intensive, have lots of international cooperation, and have impressive science departments.

 

Then again, there are schools that are known within their local community for offering quality education when it comes to a particular program, be it in the arts or the sciences.

 

A certain level of freedom

Colleges that allow students to unleash their creativity, promote critical thinking, and drive scientific inquiry can produce graduates who can make positive contributions to society. And this kind of environment doesn’t have to be within the confines of prestigious institutions.

 

Diverse community

A number of the best educational institutions have students from different parts of the world as members of their population. Positives can be gained from having a diverse community: learners are opening themselves up to new ideas and approaches.

 

A diverse community gives students a chance to meet people from different cultures, which give them a better understanding of the world beyond their own country.

 

Many students want to go to an educational institution that can not only provide them a good education, but also be instrumental in their development as a person. Many top colleges are able to do this thanks to being able to hire an impressive academic staff and attract talented students from all over the world.

 

compare colleges

Things to Look for When You Compare Colleges

Picking a college to attend counts as one of the major life decisions you have to make. Making a choice involves more than just listing down a possible list of destinations; a good deal of research should be done to find the best fit. To help you out, here are some factors to consider when you compare colleges:

 

  1. Location

Do you want to go to school in a college located in the same state or are you eyeing one that is located far away?

 

A school that is located within a few hours from home allows you to see your family or have them visit you on a more frequent basis.

 

Opting for the latter means making sure you’re comfortable living far away from home and ensuring you can adapt to surroundings that you aren’t used to.

 

  1. Student Body Size

Colleges are usually classified as small, medium, or large. A small college typically has around 5,000 students. Colleges that fall under the medium have between 5,000 to 15,000 students – a number of colleges fall within this category. A college that is classified as large has more than 15,000 students.

 

When you compare colleges, your decision rests on the social environment you prefer. A big college offers lots of opportunities for socialization like cheering for any number of school sports teams. But a smaller college can offer something more intimate.

 

  1. Available Scholarships

You can check with the school you wish to attend regarding any available scholarships. This information can also be checked in a public library or accessed online.

 

Be aware about scholarship scams and make sure to check the deadline so you can apply for them between your junior or senior years.

 

  1. Dorm Options

Freshmen students are usually put in student housing inside the campus in most colleges. But if you are not comfortable with living with lots of other students and value privacy, consider looking into other available housing options, preferably located nearby.

 

  1. Clubs & Activities

Different school groups catered to specific interests exist in many colleges. You can check the school’s website for a student organization list to see if there is one that lines with your interests.

 

Extracurricular activities form a large part of the college experience so make sure to check of there are options within the school – or even outside of it – for a bit of fun. For instance, you can check if there are bookstores, shopping centers, cinemas, or coffee shops located nearby.

 

  1. Food Options

Yes, food can be a major consideration when you compare colleges, especially if you choose to live off campus. Buying and cooking your own food can be cheaper and it would be nice to live nearby a grocery or market to get fresh produce and other supplies.

 

Sometimes, you might also want to try different food options or cuisines. As such, it’s nice to check the variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops located nearby.

 

  1. Transportation

Be it a bookstore or a shopping mall, it’s nice to know that anything you might want is just a short distance away. Check the area to see if shops and other amenities are within walking distance, just a few minutes’ drive, or a short travel by bus or train.

 

College may be mainly about getting an education in a field of your interest. But there is more to college than just studying; it helps to have a balance of work and play. Take these factors into account and your college of choice will slowly reveal itself to you.

 

college application

Completing a College Application

The purpose of a college application is to give admission officers an idea of who you are. While there are several requirements needed, not every college will ask for every single item. The application process can definitely be daunting, but this guide on how to complete a college application can help you out.

 

  1. Make a list of colleges you want to go to

There are different factors to consider when choosing a college to go to. Final choices can be boiled down to cost and distance, but it’s best to start listing colleges that cater to your interest.

 

Once you have a list, you can narrow the choices down further after carefully reading each college’s requirements and doing more research. Look into housing opportunities as well as leisure activities. If possible, a visit to the campus itself to get a feel of the place. We’ve visited many colleges ourselves and you can review our findings to go along with your own research.

 

  1. Keep deadlines in mind

Knowing the application deadline of your chosen college helps you gather and fulfill the needed requirements on time. Colleges also have different options for applying: regular decision, early action, early decision, and rolling admissions. The first three rely on deadlines while the last covers a period of time.

 

Regular Decision is the most common and starts around January with results expected around March or April. You can submit and be notified earlier under Early Action. Under Early Decision, you are agreeing to enroll in the chosen college if accepted. Rolling Admissions provide a window under which you can submit an application.

 

  1. Provide all the items required

These are the common requirements, but not every college will need each one, and others may require more.

 

  • Application Forms – can either be a paper or online application.
  • Application Fees – ranges from $35 to $50 and is not refundable but waivers are available if you can’t afford the fee.
  • High School Transcript – will be sent to the colleges you are applying to by your high school but you need to verify all the information first.
  • Final Transcript – will be sent by your high school to the colleges you’ve applied to at the end of your senior year.
  • Admission Test Scores – these are scores from tests such as ACT or SAT which some colleges require. Plan a study schedule and testing date so scores can be sent on time.
  • Letters of Recommendation – these can be from teachers or people who know you well. Ask your references to write a recommendation well in advance of the deadline.
  • Essays – this helps admission officers gain a better insight into your character and strengths.
  • Auditions and portfolios – needed when you want to get into art, music, or theater programs.
  • Interviews – even when not required, you can ask for one to connect with someone from the admission office and show you’re serious. You can interview with an alumnus from the local area in case the college is located far away.

 

  1. Keep a copy of every material needed in the application process

It’s always a good idea to keep copies of everything you’re including in your college application. You just never know if an item will get lost or misplaced, so it’s a good idea to have copies!

 

  1. Confirm that your application materials have arrived

You can apply to many schools, but keep in mind that you also have to get in touch with each of them to confirm they’ve received your college application. It’s also a good time to verify if every item requested is present. That way you can quickly supply any material that is missing.

 

Planning is crucial and this short guide on how to complete your college application highlights some of the important aspects to make the application experience less daunting.

 

college financial aid

Tips To Completing Your FAFSA

College can be costly and many students will likely need financial aid. When you apply for college financial aid, there are two options to go after:

  • federal student loans – funded by the federal government
  • private student loans – made by a bank, credit union, school, or state agency

 

What are the differences?

In general, a private loan tends to be more expensive while a federal loan offers more benefits. Here’s a look at other differences:

  • Federal student loans will be paid after you graduate, leave school, or change enrollment status.
  • Private loans have a variable interest rate, meaning the repay amount could be much more.
  • A federal loan doesn’t always require a co-signer.
  • A private student loan may require a credit check as the cost will depend on your credit score, among others.
  • Portion of a federal loan can be forgiven if you work in public service.

 

How to get a federal student loan?

You have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get a federal student loan. Comprised of more than 100 questions, completing the form can be confusing and quite daunting. But mistakes can be avoided by being prepared.

 

Our Tips on Completing the FAFSA

 

  1. Know the deadlines

States and institutions that award aid usually have limited funds so it’s best to file an application as early as possible. This way, you can hit “priority filing deadlines” to increase chances of getting college financial aid.

 

  1. Create an FSA ID

It’s recommended you get a Federal Student Aid ID so you can fill out your FAFSA form online. An FSA ID consists of a username and password and should be acquired days before filling out the FAFSA.

 

  1. Secure all needed documents

Questions asked in the FAFSA form concern personal and financial information. The actual information you will provide depends on certain factors, but these are usually the documents or information needed:

  • Social Security number
  • Social Security numbers of parents (if you are a dependent student)
  • Driver’s License number
  • Alien Registration number (if you are not a citizen of the US)
  • Federal tax information (including your spouse’s if married and your parents’ if you are a dependent student)
  • Records of untaxed income (including for your parents if you are a dependent student)
  • Information on cash, savings and checking accounts, investments, business and farm assets (including for your parents if you are a dependent student) but not including primary residence or retirement accounts

 

  1. List down all the schools you wish to attend

Doing this ensures that your information is sent there. This is important so that the school knows that you are looking for financial aid. You can also add more schools to your FAFSA free of charge.

 

  1. Sign the FAFSA form

You will use your FSA ID to sign the form. If you are a dependent, you will need one of your parents to sign the application as well.

 

Seeing a confirmation page is proof of successful submission. You will also receive the page in an email if you provided an address. Since both are different, it helps to print the one you see on screen.

 

Filling out a FAFSA form can be confusing and daunting but being prepared and having all the needed information makes the process a lot easier. Apply for a subscription at viewcollegesnow.com for more information on college financial aid.