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How to Make Your Final College Decision
Across America, now is College Decision Time. Most students choose a college based on majors, faculty-to-student ratios, student life and location. But more students and their parents are also asking for information about job placement and financial outcomes. Will I get a job when I graduate? How much will I earn?
In the following post, Bentley Dean of Undergraduate Admission Suzanne Cuccurullo gives four factors students and their families should focus on in the final weeks leading up to decision time to find the best college match.
Visit one last time
Cuccurullo: No matter how many times families have visited a campus before receiving the offer, they should always go back for one more visit if they are seriously considering the school. Many colleges have special events exclusively for accepted students such as open houses or overnight visits. If schools don’t offer special programs for admitted students, still sign up for a standard information session or campus tour.
Dive into the financial aid details
Cuccurullo: You can’t talk about college without talking about the finances. Families should talk to a staff member at the school’s financial aid office about the package their student received. Are there any opportunities for ongoing scholarships? Maybe as a sophomore, junior or senior? Really try to understand what these packages mean, not just in the short term, but in the long term.
Find out the school’s retention rate
Cuccurullo: A college’s retention rate measures the percentage of students that come back after freshman year. Nationally, this number is about 74 percent, so roughly 25 percent of students will end up transferring at some point in their college career. If you find out a school has a low retention rate, that may be a red flag that the way it portrays itself to students during the recruiting process is not exactly what students experience when they arrive.
Think about the return on your college investment
Cuccurullo: Families can calculate a school’s return on investment by looking at the career placement rate, average graduating salary and loan default rate. In other words, are students getting jobs after graduation? Do the jobs pay well? And are the jobs good enough to pay off any remaining loans? According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, more than 40 percent of Americans who borrowed from the government’s main student-loan program are not making payments or are behind on those payments.
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.