MARQUETTE - Beginning the college search can seem daunting for some high school students, with so many schools and choices to wade through, along with the burden of deciphering financial aid information.
Patricia Karwoski, a guidance counselor at Marquette Senior High School said there are three main factors she asks high school students to consider when they begin their college search.
The first is how certain they are of their major. If a student is fairly uncertain of their major, Karwoski suggests looking for a college with a broad enough base to explore a number of majors before making a decision.
Shannon McNabb, center, wipes her eyes of tears during the Gwinn High School's class of 2008 graduation. (CU photo courtesy of Debbie McNabb)
The second thing Karwoski encourages students to consider is a campus visit during the school year when classes are in session. That way they can get a feel for how classes at that particular college work and whether or not they would fit on the campus.
"I encourage students to visit the college campus if they can. There is nothing like actually going to the campus in full swing," she said.
The third factor and often one that can make a decision is the cost of a particular college and any potential financial aid awards.
"A lot of times, I think students don't really know if they can really afford a school until they do the FAFSA," Karwoski said. "Sometimes it is more than they expect, sometimes it is less. So it's worth throwing their hat into the ring and exploring all the options before they commit."
One other thing that she also suggests is that the students consider the size of the community and the size of the campus.
"Some students like a more personal approach and some are more drawn to the large city environment," she said.
Online resources for beginning the college search:
www.college.govCollege.gov is built and maintained by the United States Department of Education in collaboration with students. It has resources for two-and four-year colleges and universities, as well as vocation and career schools. The site is divided into three easy to navigate sections. The first, "Why to go," not only provides information for students who have already made the decision to go to college, but also offers up reasons for students who may be looking for some reasons to attend college. The second section, "What to do," shows students how to find a school, apply for admission and start preparing. The third section, "How to pay," offers suggestions on how to finance continuing education. It has also sections for parents and family members. The site also directly links to studentaid.ed.gov and fafsa.ed.gov.www.students.govStudents.gov is also developed under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Education and offers resources for students and their families beginning the college search. It has information about planning and paying for college, as well as career development, internships and volunteer opportunities. There is also a section dedicated to campus life, which discusses relocation, healthy living, diversity and student consumer information. The site provides links from all over the internet to help students find reliable college information in one place.
Education and Training, List of Michigan Schools and Colleges. The Michigan Jobs and Career portal is a service of the state of Michigan. This particular section offers a list of all the colleges and universities in Michigan, along with links to their admissions, academics and financial aid pages. Links to virtual tours and e-learning sites are also listed, as well as contact phone numbers and a link to an online application. Links to other college planning websites are also available on this page.
This website for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an important resource for college students because it is the place where students go to fill out their application to receive federal help paying for college. The site helps students and their families with understanding what the FAFSA is and what it helps provide, along with filing options and deadlines.
For additional local FAFSA assistance, any high school student can attend the annual College Goal Sunday at Northern Michigan University from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Ontario/Michigan rooms of the University Center. Students do not have to be attending NMU in the fall to attend College Goal Sunday. College students can also attend to receive assistance with completing the FAFSA. They will receive help from staff members in the NMU Financial Aid office.
Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.