Thick envelope or small envelope? Accepted or denied? These are the questions stirring in the minds of most Bethel High School seniors as they wait anxiously by their mailboxes hoping for a resounding “yes” from their dream university. Typically, college is the next step in the lives of adolescents on their path to becoming functional and successful adults. The question is: where to go?
With the over four thousand universities and colleges throughout the United States, narrowing it down to only one can be quite the challenge. Luckily, BHS students have a solid support system through their parents and their school. The College and Career Center is helpful in finding out exactly what a student needs in their post-secondary education.
There are a variety of factors that go into making the big decision. “It usually depends on the individual,” says College and Career Center coordinator Ms. Danielle Conley. “Students have to consider the physical aspects of the school and also the offering of specific programs.” Each major appeals to a different student and degree options can help those who are undecided. Even students who have specific ambitions should have several options to choose from in their school.
Researching school clubs, sports activities, local entertainment, and extra student services can also be beneficial to making the right decision. BHS senior Vincent Do wants a healthy mix of good education with an interesting campus life, “I want an open community that is diverse and hopefully a science program that will help me decide what career in the sciences I should pursue.” Essentially, the university community becomes a home for students during four plus years. Therefore, knowing the campus and school events is important to an enjoyable college experience.
“It’s also important to get a good education for a good value,” says Ms. Conley. And value, be it monetary or merit, is the key word. The price tag on a college is often a ‘deal breaker’ for a student’s choice. Cost is perhaps the biggest factor for middle class families in Bethel because parents carry the weight that student loans do not.
However, Ms. Conley says that scary numbers should not keep students from discovering what they want from a school: “Cost is always a factor, but my suggestion is not to discard just on the basis of cost. The initial price on a website is often not what the student pays due to various scholarships and grants.” Millions of dollars worth of scholarships are available to hardworking students. Scholarships range from academic performance, to athletics, to artistic individuality, to leadership and community involvement. “Costs are so outrageous that a school has to have good financial aid. My personal costs, including transportation and living expenses, are a lot for me to handle” says BHS senior Nicola Gallagher.
Unfortunately, the recession in the United States has put a damper on college dreams. Some students are forced to settle on perhaps an undesirable school due to recessional cut-backs. However, less expensive options such as state schools are becoming much more appealing and substantial for the college experience. According to Ms. Conley, “Connecticut students should always consider UCONN and the other state branches because they get to pay in-state tuition which can be better than out of state schools. It’s more ‘attractive’ to some students.” The local option can sometimes make students weary of missing out on the independence of college life, but state schools can offer a better bang for your buck and still create fun and interesting memories.
Picking the right college or university is often a nerve-wracking ordeal. But it is important that senior students remember the right choice is out there and there. So next time you are at the mailbox, take a deep breath, and open the door to your future!