What to Look for When Choosing a College

 

So you’re exploring your college options. That’s great! Your first step toward success is already completed – making the commitment to go to school. For some, that’s the hardest part! Now, it’s time to choose which college you’ll be attending. With college becoming increasingly common, the market is growing in its saturation of schools. There are two-year schools, four-year schools, state colleges, universities, community colleges, online schools, technical schools, vocational schools, private schools, and the list goes on… How do you know which one to pick?

What to Look for When Choosing a College

Choosing a college can feel overwhelming. You want a school that’s not only going to give you a great education and a standing chance in the labor market, but one that also fits your lifestyle. When you’re confident in your school, you’ll be able to better focus on your education, and feel good about it too!

Making an informed decision with your school choice can save you a lot of strife in the future. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time, and cost, on a school and program to later find out that it was waste of your time. There are a few guidelines below that can help you to weed through the bad ones and find a school that’s the right fit for you.

Does it fit your goals?

Ask yourself – what do you want to go to school for? What would you like to see yourself doing in one year from now, and in five years from now? Does the school have the area of focus you’re looking for?

If you know exactly what it is you’re wanting to go to school for, finding the right school can start with accumulating a list of colleges that carry your necessary program!

If you’re not sure what you want to do, and many aren’t, Martinsburg College has a very military-friendly staff and can speak with you about various career options. One of the great things is that this process is personalized; it’s not a one-size-fits-all! Speaking with someone from Admissions is worry-free and there are no obligations. It’s what we’re here for! Fill out a request for more information here.

Know what you’re able to commit to.

This is an important factor to consider when choosing a school! Once you know what program you’re looking for, look at the class schedule options. How far away is the school from you? Are you able to commit to driving to and from school and be in classes 2-5 days a week? Does doing school work from home or on-the-go with online classes fit your lifestyle better? How long is the program and when will you graduate? Do you have an upcoming move any time within the next 6 months to 4 years? These are all important questions to ask when deciding on a school.
If you’re a military service member or spouse, you may be uprooted for any variety of reasons (PCS, deployment, extended or temporary relocation during deployment, etc). Making sure you select a school (and program) that can accommodate the military lifestyle is very important, especially if you might move to a new state and could then potentially lose credits. No one likes to re-do work that has been done, especially when it’s going to cost you more than just your time.

A school that provides the right flexibility for your lifestyle is important. The schedule, location, and length of program will all play a vital role in your success and optimization of your time.

Cost.

Cost is pretty self-explanatory. What can you afford and how much are you willing to spend or take out in loans?

If you’re a military spouse, you may qualify for education benefits that are specifically intended for you. Some schools, like Martinsburg College, may offer programs that can be entirely covered by those benefits, which leaves you with little to no out of pocket cost. We are proud that our students can graduate debt-free. With today’s sky-high costs for education, this is an unbeatable deal! Don’t wait to find out if you qualify for them, though, because they are time-sensitive. Service members have their own set of educational funding options as well.

 

Value.

Beyond just the cost, what value is the school of choice offering you for your program? As mentioned before, the college market is growing in saturation. The good news for you? You can find a school that offers more value for your buck. Here are some important things for you to consider that can add value to your school selection.

Accreditation. Is the school accredited? This one is a non-negotiable. What does this mean? A school that is accredited goes through periodical approvals and review processes that make sure it is honoring its responsibilities to meet standards and regulations. Why is this important? As a student and future career-seeker, you want to make sure that the education you are receiving is current and is truly setting you up to succeed in today’s market. An accredited school’s education is recognized by the Department of Education. On the contrary, a non-accredited school is not regulated, and that’s a risk you just don’t want to take when you are investing your time and money or funding.

Finding out if a school is accredited or not should be simple. You can call and ask them, check on their website, or search for them on the Department of Education website here. Learn more about Martinsburg College’s accreditation.

Student Resources. Many schools today offer additional student resources outside of the program. Does the school offer any student support? Are they user-friendly? Do they have a staff that responds to you in a timely manner and can be easily reached? How about a post-graduation program? Job searching resources? Resume help? These things and more can add value to your school and program. Choose a school that offers student resources that will be beneficial to your lifestyle, learning style, and goals. Martinsburg College boasts an extremely military-friendly staff that is available to help its students via phone, email, and even social media. It also offers a variety of student resources including a phenomenal post-graduation plan.

Materials. When considering the value of your program and school choice, don’t forget to factor in materials. College books and supplies can cost up to thousands of extra dollars per year. Schools that provide materials with their programs can offer a much higher value than those that do not. Don’t hesitate to ask the schools you are considering if they include any materials, and research the cost of any outside materials that you will need to get yourself.

Do your research.

Research is vital! Not many things feel worse than getting started with a school or program to later find out you wish you had chosen a different one.

Refund Policy. Look up the school’s refund policy. Many schools offer no refund after the first class or first week. If you decide you made a mistake or you have changed your mind after you get started, you will want to have a fair refund policy. Some schools, like Martinsburg College, offer a generous refund policy. Don’t hesitate to ask the institution up front and before you make your final decision to move forward!

Compare/contrast. Make sure you do your research and compare at least a few schools before making your final decision. All of the above areas are great items to compare and contrast. Which schools are military friendly and will work best with YOUR lifestyle? Which ones offer the most value? Who are they accredited by? How long is the program? Which ones cover the cost of a post-graduation certification? You’ll be glad you spent a little extra time researching and won’t have to worry about any buyer’s remorse down the road!

Student testimonials. What is the school’s past and current alumni saying? Do they have a high graduation rate? A school that has a high graduation rate is a school that is retaining its students. Happy students rarely leave. Learn from some of the school’s current or past students to find out their experiences and see what they have to say about the school. Read some of Martinsburg College’s student testimonials.

Going to school is a BIG deal! It is something that you should be so VERY proud of. However, school is a commitment and you want to make sure you are making a smart decision when selecting your school. If you find a school that checks all of your boxes, you’ll feel confident in your decision and be able to study with a sense of comfort.

Schools like Martinsburg College operate with its students in mind. Martinsburg College knows and understands the needs of its students, which is why it is so military-friendly. With its up-to-date accreditation and flexible programs, military spouses can feel confident that they have made the best choice for their lifestyle and can be assured that they will be able to fit school into their schedule. From its many different program options, to its accreditation, post-graduation plans, student resources, and more, it offers one unbeatable value for its programs. Explore Martinsburg College and learn more today!

What else do you look for in a school?