College and Career Readiness for High School, Middle School, and College StudentsCollege and Career Readiness for High School, Middle School, and College Students

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College Campus Tours

Visit a College Campus

Choosing the right college to attend can be difficult. If you are unsure about what college to attend, consider taking a campus tour of all your potential colleges. These college campus visits can make a big difference in helping you select the perfect college. Here's a college checklist of items to look for.

Research these Prior to a College Visit

You can research college funding (grant, scholarship, and aid), graduation rates, student to professor ratios, tutorial support services, library services, and career placement assistance online or by calling the college or visiting their website. Our Research Colleges and Funding College articles can also help.

College Checklist (printable checklist at the end)

The magnitude and condition of the campus amenities can influence your decision significantly when selecting a school as well. You'll want to check out the following:

1. Classrooms

If you want to make it through to graduation, you can expect to spend a lot of time in your college's classrooms. Inspecting the condition of the classrooms is important. Are the classrooms spacious and technologically advanced? Are they well kept? You may also want to note the size of typical freshman classes. If you will be in a lecture hall – how big is it and how many students typically attend.

2. Dorm Rooms or Off Campus Housing

If you are planning on living in a dorm room or off campus, it is definitely a priority to check out your future living space. If you want to live on campus-identifying the school with the best dormitory conditions can make living in a dorm room much easier. On your campus visit, ask to see the freshman dorm rooms.

Dorm rooms are simply a place for you to rest your head away from home; therefore you should not expect the same luxury you have at home. Look at the condition of the bathroom and the proximity of to the classrooms and other campus amenities in order to make the best decision. You may also want to consider if there is adequate study space and/or storage space. While you are there, see if you can ask any current student what they like and dislike about the dorms. You may also want to see if your cable, utilities, and Internet are included.

If you choose to live off campus, you may want to look at the distance from campus, apartment condition, apartment cleanliness, safety, and what is included in your rent (utilities, trash, water etc.). Some colleges have listings of student friendly apartments. Ask if there is a campus office or representative that offers a list of nearby apartments or postings for roommates for the upcoming year. Sometimes this can be less costly especially when sharing the expenses with other college students. Print the Living on your own Expense Checklist to calculate your monthly expenses.

If you are living in a dorm, check out the College Dorm Checklist article which also contains a printable dorm room checklist.

3. Parking

Some colleges require you to have a parking pass or have limited parking for incoming freshmen. Ask about their campus parking rules and regulations. A lot of campuses have designated spots for faculty and staff, so make sure you know where students can park. Most colleges require you to register your car with their campus security office, make sure you have the correct documents when arriving.

4. Cafeteria

Most likely, some of your meals at college will come from the college's cafeteria. The average college student eats at the campus cafeteria at least twice a day. Therefore, it is imperative that you check the level of cleanliness, menu, and the quality of the food being served in the cafeteria. Some campuses may have more than one dining hall, so you should be prepared to investigate all of them. Find out the cafeteria's hours as well.

5. Medical Center

The college of your choice may have a medical center with qualified medical professionals who are available during emergency situations. During your tour, find out if they offer medical services and where they are located. Ask about hours and what type of services they offer.

6. College Gym, Hotspots, and Other Attractions

One cannot learn without having fun once in a while. The college you attend should have some hotspots where you can go to release the stress after a difficult exam. That's why colleges and universities have these attractions. Look for places where you can hang out with your friends to relax. Check out the college gym and find out the hours. The campus may also have a basketball, volleyball, tennis, and racquetball courts – and a pool if you're lucky. If you are into sports but are not playing on the college's team, find out if the college has intermural sports. The college may also likely have clubs – you may quickly meet some friends this way when you're new.

7. Inspect the Surrounding Neighborhood

Inspecting the surrounding neighborhood is also important. Look for useful stores, businesses, and restaurants that may come in handy. Additionally, you should also check for reliable transportation so you can navigate easily throughout the area.

8. Talk to People

Finally, you should seek out current students, faculty, and staff during your campus visit. If you have an opportunity ask them about questions about the college, personal experiences, and whether or not they would recommend the school to you. Someone else's experience or view can help you make the right decision. To ensure accurate information speak to more than one person.

9. Take Home Items

We also encourage you to pick up any college literature such as the school paper, club flyers, and the local community newspapers to get a sense of the culture you will be surrounded by.

10. Fill Out the College Campus Tour Checklist

Print out this College Campus Checklist (pdf) to take with you on your visit. This will help you rate the college and document the your tour.

Still in High School?

Get ready for college by reviewing the high school checklist relevant to your grade level.

Plan on Renting while in College? (for the first time renter)

Living in a college dorm makes budgeting a bit easier. Your utilities (water and electric) are normally covered and your college dorm fee may include a few other amenities (like internet). Your college financial aid will probably also cover the dorm, so you won't have to stress about making monthly payments for rent and other expenses covered by your dorm fee. However, if the college you are attending does not include a dorm (many community colleges do not) or you simply wish to move into an apartment, here are a few items to consider.

1. Consider the Small Items

If you are moving into a house or apartment, there may be some expenses you haven't thought of. You've likely thought about furniture, towels for your bathroom, and kitchen appliances, but there are other expenses that sneak up on you. For example, items like shower curtains, cleaning supplies (sponges, broom, mop, and toilet brush etc.), and curtains can get expensive quick. One tip is to visit your local dollar store and purchase many of these bare necessities there.

2. Ask about Appliances

When looking at apartments, make sure appliances are included. Ask about the refrigerator, microwave, and washer and dryer. These are big expenses if not included.

3. Consider your Roommate

You also want to think about whether you will have a roommate and who that will be. We all have friends we love and think living with them would be just like hanging out all the time. In some cases it is, in others it is the complete opposite. You become almost enemies with your old best friends over the silliest things. Make sure you can handle seeing a lot of your roommate!

4. Stay within your Budget

Ensure you (and your roommate if applicable) can afford your new place. You'll be splitting the expenses and you don't want to leave your roommate high and dry waiting for your half of the bills. You also want to be sure your roommate can pay their fair share.

If you haven't lived on your own yet, you can print the living on your own expense checklist (pdf) to help you plan a monthly budget while in college.

5. Food Rules

Also, you might be used to your parents' house being filled with food. When you move out, you are going to need a food reservoir so to speak. This is expensive as well. You may want to cover with your roommate (if you'll have one) how you may split this expense. Establishing "food rules" can be a good idea. Rules such as are you going to share food? Go half on food? Shop together? Share everything? Or divide your food up - for instance a separate cabinet and refrigerator shelf for your roommate's food and yours.

Should I go to College? - Self Check

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Looks like a college degree is worth it to you!

Here are some other facts, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is a significant pay difference as your educational level advances.

  • No high school diploma = $20,241
  • High school graduate only = $30,627
  • Some college, no degree = $32,295
  • Associate's Degree = $39,771
  • Bachelor's Degree = $56,665
  • Master's Degree = $73,738
  • Professional Degree = $127,803
  • Doctorate Degree = $103,054
The entire mean earnings chart can be found at: census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0232.pdf

Wonder why we asked if you wanted to be healthy? According to BMC Health, a high level of education has been linked to lower blood pressure!

Also, the College Board reports that people with a higher education are more satisfied at work than people who only have a high school diploma.

Looks like you are not sure college is worth it.

Not sure whether a college degree is worth it or not? That's ok! There are others that agree with you. According to the College Board, college can cost 3 to 4 times as much as it did 20 years ago. Though it costs more, you are likely to be paid more with a college degree, however. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is a significant pay difference as your educational level advances.

  • No high school diploma = $20,241
  • High school graduate only = $30,627
  • Some college, no degree = $32,295
  • Associate's Degree = $39,771
  • Bachelor's Degree = $56,665
  • Master's Degree = $73,738
  • Professional Degree = $127,803
  • Doctorate Degree = $103,054
The entire mean earnings chart can be found at: census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0232.pdf

There are some other positive facts as well. Unemployment rates are lower for people with a college degree, those with degrees have higher job satisfaction, and they are also statistically healthier.

Keep researching colleges and college degree programs to be sure you make a decision that is right for you.

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