By Jacob Newman, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – April 6, 2017
Making my college decision was tough! I changed my mind at least two or three times when I was deciding where to go to school. In the end, my decision came down to the scholarship offer I received, the location and cost of housing, and the vibe I got on campus. There were similar factors at play in the decision process for many of my friends who were making their college decisions. Here are some of the most important things to consider while making your college decision…
Research first year experience programs
Transitioning from high school to college can feel overwhelming, but schools in Utah want to make your transition fun! Each school has programs for first year students like classes for freshman to learn college skills or a set of classes that groups of students take together, living and learning communities where students live together and take classes together, honors programs, or peer mentoring. Consider what you want out of college and your first year experience when making your decision. Check out the first year experience programs at schools in Utah below!
- University of Utah
- Weber State
- Utah State University
- Southern Utah University
- Dixie State University
- Snow College
- Salt Lake Community College
- Utah Valley University
Ask about student life
Each schools has many different fun ways to get involved on campus. Universities and colleges in Utah offer clubs, volunteer opportunities, lectures, on-campus employment, fitness facilities, concerts, plays, and more! Make a list of what you like about what each school has to offer. Each school will have slightly different activities and resources. Talk to current students about what they think about student life at the university they are attending. Visit the campuses you are thinking about attending (again if you haven’t already) and get a feel for student life on campus by checking out some of the activities or resources that interest you.
Think about academics
What do you want to study? What career do you want in the future? What are some of the strong academic programs at the school you are considering? What opportunities does the school have to help you apply what you are learning in the classroom in the real world? Check out the majors available at Utah colleges and universities and compare how the schools you are considering, but also remember that college is a time to learn what you like and don’t like! You will probably change your mind about your major (just like Holly did), and that’s okay. College is a time to learn about yourself.
Weigh your financial aid offers
Money can stress out college students, especially when the cost of college seems so high. Just like Eleni, Brian, and Holly, scholarships or financial aid will probably be a major factor in your decision. Remember that each school will offer you a slightly different financial aid offer. Many schools offer a net price calculator to help you know how much you can expect to pay for tuition, books, housing, and other costs. After looking carefully at the net price calculator of your school and the financial aid offer, make an informed decision about the cost. Remember that filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year you are in school is an important way to help you pay for college costs with grants, federal work-study, and federal student loans (if you need them). If you need help filling out your FAFSA or have concerns about paying for college, don’t be afraid to reach out!
Make your decision fun
Don’t stress out about it! Find ways to make your college decision fun and less stressful. If you decide to visit different schools, you can reward yourself by enjoying some of the best things that each school has to offer (devouring Aggie ice cream on Old Main, exploring the University of Utah’s Natural History Museum, taking in a play at the Weber State’s Browning Center, or enjoying many other fun activities). College is an exciting time and this is an exciting decision. Good luck!
Jacob Newman is a Community Outreach Officer with Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) and financial aid expert. Before working with UHEAA, he worked as a the Job Readiness Program Coordinator at the English Skills Learning Center. Jacob graduated with an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Brigham Young University in August 2016. He speaks Thai, Spanish, and American Sign Language. Follow Jacob on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @stepupjacob.