Questions to Consider…
When seeking an institution of higher learning, many questions come to mind.
- Where do you start to find out about colleges that offer the programs in which I’m interested?
- Where do I go to find about the kinds of colleges for which I’m looking?
- Which college is better for me? Small or large? 2 year or 4 year?
Choosing the Right College or University
When considering the best institution for higher learning, one of the most important considerations is what they are teaching. Each year, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) asks the question, “What Will They Learn?” ACTA surveys colleges and universities annually to find out if certain basic elements of a well-rounded liberal arts education are being effectively covered without an excessive amount of political or philosophical bias. The following excerpt is from ACTA’s most recent release.
“What Will They Learn? Not much, according to ACTA’s What Will They Learn?™ study.
Our survey of nearly 1,100 colleges and universities reveals that less than 20% require their students to study U.S. History; just 13% require foreign language study; and a measly 3% require the study of economics.
We aren’t the only ones shocked by these findings. Today’s Wall Street Journal covers our report, noting the connection between historical illiteracy and curricular decline. And the Washington Examiner highlights the exorbitant costs students often pay for a “liberal arts” education that is anything but.
What Will They Learn?™ also brings good news from schools like Christopher Newport University—the first public university in the country to achieve a perfect ACTA “A!” As President Paul Trible told the Journal, “We believe that acquaintance with these seven subjects is essential to building a strong foundation for a meaningful and consequential life.”
Colleges and universities have basic entrance requirements. Although each institution sets its own standards, there are fairly consistent elements that include minimum high school core credits, grade point average, and college entrance test scores. Here some of the most common requirements.
4-Year College Entrance Requirements
1. The high school credits expected are:
- 4 English
- 4 Math
- 3 Science (2 including lab)
- 3 Social studies
- 2 Foreign/World Language
2. Beyond required courses, colleges often want to see 2 additional core credits (resulting in at least 18 purely academic course credits).
3. ACT or College Board SAT scores.
Note: Following the First Coast Christian School Guidelines will meet or exceed the standard college entrance requirements, including receiving a fully accredited high school diploma.
Please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to keep track of the admissions requirements for your preferred institutions. For, example, if your first choice college requires 3 years of a foreign or world language, it is your responsibility to make sure you complete all 3 credits before the end of high school.
What do college admissions counselors look for?
A good guide to the academic expectations of college admissions counselors is to follow the State University Admissions Requirements for the state of Florida. If you are seriously considering an out-of-state college/university, you should definitely check out that state’s policies. However, the following link is a good starting point.
State of Florida University Admissions Requirements
The All-Important Recommendation Letter!
Many times students will request a teacher recommendation letter for college. This is helpful since the teachers have seen how the student interacts and works on a daily basis. Recommendation letters can help validate the information the student provided on the college application. The College Board’s Big Future website has a great article called “How to Get a Great Letter of Recommendation” that outlines the “who, when, and how” of getting a recommendation.
It is also important to consider the counselor recommendation letter. In the Huffington Post, an article entitled “The Truth About Counselor Recommendation Letters” describes how such a letter should be composed. More importantly, the author highlights how critical it is for the counselor to know as much as possible about the student. The grades, GPA’s, and list of school activities only goes so far. But, the counselor has a unique perspective in that he/she sees the student in comparison with their peers on a broader scale and can provide “some educated insight on how you behave as a student in a specific environment among other students”.
There is a new (and eye-opening) website created by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni that gives you one place to see the actual costs and efficiency of colleges. Go to How Colleges Spend Money. You can compare colleges for cost but also for graduation rate. If a college has a 60-80% graduation rate for those in 4 year degree programs, you can be confident that they have built a culture that encourages students to succeed. If on the other hand, a college only has a 20-30% graduation rate, some very serious questions about the intent and execution of the college advisory system must be asked.
- Is the college truly following a plan to help students transition into a career? OR
- Is the school content to collect fees without guiding students to finish?
When weighing the costs of college, consider using a college cost calculator like…
Be wise in your decisions about where to prepare yourself for the rest of your life!
Playing Sports in College
For those students who wish to continue playing sports in college, there are sometimes additional opportunities for scholarships through college sports. If the college you are considering is a member of the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), you will need to register at the NCAA website. For information on how to connect with college scouts, please contact our athletic director, Mrs. Perri Teel.
Does everyone need to go to college?
In this day and age when so many college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, this is a valid question. Although we recognize that college is not the choice for everyone, it is an excellent choice for many. Real Clear Education has a good article to assist you as you consider this question. Just click on the following link: Why Go to College? Student Perspectives on Higher Ed.