Analyzing the costs of college

The biggest question most high school seniors face is where they’ll go after high school. Whether it’s college, military or the workforce, the final year of “childhood” is taken up with trying to make the best decision to set them up for the rest of their lives. 

There are countless factors that go into making this decision: what career students want to go into, what opportunities are available to them, and, one of the biggest factors for students headed to college, what are they able to afford? 

So many students end up prioritizing cost over experience when it comes to making college decisions, but which is really more important?

It doesn’t take long for students to realize they chose a college that just wasn’t right for them, and they oftentimes don’t realize how big of an impact that can have on their academic performance. 

Where students choose to go to college can have a huge impact on their mental health, and one of the biggest factors is the level of academics. If a student undermatches, which means to go to a college or university where the academic esteem is lesser than that of their high school, they are 27% more likely to have symptoms of depression and low self-esteem, according to a 2018 study by Assistant Professor Noli Brazil from the University of California Davis and Assistant Professor Matthew Andersson from Baylor University. 

But even if students choose a school that is academically good for them, it still may not be a good fit. Finding a school where students can get involved and connect with their peers is extremely important to their success.

The transition from high school to college is one of the most challenging: having to become independent and essentially start fresh in a new environment, surrounded by new people. Connecting with the environment, making new friends and getting involved is made easier when students feel comfortable and like they’re in the right place. 

Visiting potential college choices is one of the most important things students can do. Being in the physical location gives students a real feel for the school and allows them to see if they really feel connected to the place, and if they can really picture themselves there for the next four years. 

Students, usually with some form of pressure from their parents, take the focus away from what college they feel like they could really fit in and succeed and put the importance on the price tag. But going to a less expensive school isn’t worth four years at a school students don’t really fit in. 

So, to students: Don’t concede your happiness for a smaller price tag. Look for colleges that you can truly see yourself having the best four years of your life. I understand that the price can seem overwhelming, but with a little hard work and scholarship applications, you can make it happen at a reasonable price.