Choosing a college or university need not be a life changing decision for most individuals. Naturally some students pride themselves in attending a specific school due to family ties, sports activities or if all else fails because of the academic standing enjoyed by certain institutions. In my humble opinion high school and college counselors should spend a little more time analyzing some of the local institutions such as community colleges and smaller four year state institutions.
Why would I choose a small institution over a large research institution? Usually this would depend upon my average high school grades, my financial status or my transportation options. More and more students returning to school after long absences find the small local institutions offer more flexibility in their scheduling of classes. Often the staff and faculty are more empathetic toward working adults in smaller local institutions due to the large population of students falling into this category.
The main point to any of this is to look in your own back yard before you spend a lot of effort and money applying to and attending large colleges and universities that may be a long distance from your home. A great percentage of first year students arrive on campus full of vigor and wanting to immerse themselves in the entire college experience. More often than not the first quarter or semester removes all optimism regarding passing grades while spending most evening hours chasing after love interests and drinking oneself into oblivion. Living at home for at least the first year and attending a local Jr. College or 4 year institution could establish a base line for grades and behavior that would follow students to the next level. Once bad habits are established they are difficult to change even when the desire is present.
Like a lot of individuals I spent a many hours bending my elbow and being amazed at the transformation process that takes place with young females after midnight. Had I spent a little more time with the books and in class I might have found myself a little less stressed in midlife trying to make a living and supporting a family. The real world experience is best explained by one who has been through the same experience. In my case I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college and consequently my family had no idea as to the temptations to which I would be exposed.
When my children were deciding upon college one of them chose to go attend a college away from home. I made this promise to her. If you make less than a C in any subject you will come home and attend the local JR. College for 2 quarters. Her second quarter in college found her with 2 D’s and a C. True to our word her mother and I drove to her apartment, loaded up her belongings and took her home to a Jr. College as promised. She make A’s for 2 quarters and was allowed to go back to her previous life. Why do I relate this story? Because it is true and it worked for my family. Smaller institutions offer a lot of opportunity and one should hasten to take advantage of these before grades get totally out of hand.
By the way, my younger child decided to attend a local Jr. College for two years and afterward received a scholarship to a private Regional University. Normally, the tuition for the private school would have run me well over $20,000 a year (this was in the mid 90’s) but with her scholarship we only paid $3000 per quarter. Why am I a firm believer in local institutions? The previous two personal examples say it all for me.
Presently, I am fortunate to be employed as an instructor at a local 4 year state college. The majority of my students live within 20 miles of the college and are receiving a quality education at a reasonable cost. A majority of the professors and instructors in our business school have years of practical business experience and the class sizes are small enough for a lot of personal attention.
Should you be wrestling with a family member regarding where they should attend an institution of higher learning please do not overlook any local Jr. College or 4 year institution as you will do yourself and your family member an injustice. For the most part those attending college will get out what they put in and you do not have to mortgage the house and go into overwhelming debt to accomplish the goal.