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Planning for College Education

Planning for a College Education or For Life?

College planning provides students, families and education professionals with information on college selection, admission, financial aid and scholarships. What can you do to plan for college? Apart from, y'know, like studying? Unfortunately, as with so much in this imperfect world of ours, doing that work, opening those books, and doing the studying is a necessary part of the process, but not the planning required before entering college. But OK, you've accepted that and realize that your High School grades are going to be important in deciding which college you can attend. After all that, what can you do to start planning for College?

Planning for a College Education or For Life?

Planning for College involves planning for what you will do after college. There is no point, for example, in taking a program in English Literature if you want to be a nuclear physicist. So you will want to take stock of your interests and natural abilities and start planning form there. Once you've done that, thought about what career you might like to pursue, you can plan on what college programs and degree you will pursue.

Step Two in Planning for College

Once you know what subject you want to study you will need to make sure that your High School credits and courses are aimed towards that. Your high school may not require you to take advanced math classes, for example, but your college science major might expect you to have completed certain program electives. Discuss this with your high school counselor and plan to take all of the correct high school courses.

Step Three in Planning for a College Education

There are over 4,000 colleges in the US. You need to plan whether you want to do a two year (Associates) degree program, either at a junior or community college, a four year degree program (Bachelors), or perhaps a mixture of the two. Your decision will only be partly about the subject you want to study. You will also want to think about planning on how you will pay for college. Going to a public college in your home state is usually cheaper than going to a private college. Living at home and going to the community college is cheaper still. You will also want to find out whether your parents will help you, how much you can get in student loans, and whether the college will help you with a scholarship or grant. There's a whole wonderful world of things like Pell Grants, Stafford Loans (FFELs and Direct) and PLUS, each of which can be worth thousands of dollars, for you to discover and which could help you plan your college finances.

Step Four in Planning for College

College is not just about studying. As you plan for college, consider the extracurricular activities available on campus and in the local community. Sports? Drama Clubs? Photography? Music? What are the things you like doing now in high school that you will want to continue doing in college? Your high school extracurricular pursuits may also factor into your college admission strategy. Don't think that these are just the fun things you do. Employers are also interested, looking to see if you are good at working in teams, are a well rounded person and have experience beyond just the book learning.

So planning for a College education means making plan on what you want to do, then working backwards from that to the subject you should study, then deciding which college is right for you. Finally, make plans on getting the High School grades and SAT score to allow you to go there.

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