Although many high school graduates enroll in college the following semester, others take a much-deserved and well-planned break to catch up on other things besides education. Joining the military, travel abroad, or getting married are common activities that lead to postponing college courses. But when you are ready to head down the college path, here are some steps that can help to make the process smoother.
Choose a Suitable College
This may seem obvious, but choosing the college that’s right for you is a crucial step to getting the most out of your education. This is just as true for those fresh-faced 18-year-olds as it is for you. To begin your college career, you may want to take a few classes locally to complete the general education requirements. Most degree-awarding programs include several first- and second-year basic courses in subjects like writing, math, and science. Community Colleges often charge lower tuition rates than full-scale universities; they also may be closer to home and easier to navigate as you get started. Then, after completing a few courses and deciding on a major, you may want to transfer to a larger campus, like the University of Maryland University College, where a broader range of courses may be offered, along with expansive academic support services. However, depending on where you are in life, you may not be able to move due to work, family, or the financial stressors. Though this may have been a barrier in the past, now we have more accessible options. Luckily, online colleges like Cornerstone University with over 70 programs to choose from can offer a flexible avenue to getting your Bachelor’s degree when the traditional on-campus college experience isn’t possible.
Meet with an Academic Adviser
After choosing your preferred college or university, schedule a meeting with an academic adviser. This person can help you pick a major or schedule classes that will meet general requirements as well as prepare you for a specialized college degree. The adviser can also inform you about campus tours, housing, orientation, and student services to help you get acclimated.
Arrange Tuition Funding
The financial aid office has information about various tuition funding options. For example, you may be eligible for a scholarship based on grades or other criteria. You also may qualify for an academic grant. Student loans and campus employment are other ways to finance your college expenses. You may be asked to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the types of financial assistance you may be able to receive. Tuition payment plans are likely available as well so that you don’t have to pay for an entire academic year or semester up front.
Organize Your Schedule
In preparing to take online or campus college classes, it is a good idea to organize your schedule to coordinate coursework and learning activities with other aspects of your life, such as a job or family. Include time slots for study time and a social life along with healthy habits like exercise and adequate rest.
College opens an exciting door to the future. Get ready by taking the above steps to ensure a successful and productive experience.