Do you know that to get the best of your education, there are types of colleges you should never apply to? Read my complete guide to help you avoid choosing the wrong college for you (plus a FREE downloadable back-to-school guide)
People have different criteria when it comes to choosing the college they are going to attend. The top factors in choosing a college for one person might be a deal-breaker for other people. Therefore, there are no “rules” that apply regarding what to look for in a college checklist.
But, if you’ve been considering the option of going back to school as an adult student, student moms, and dads, the whole process of choosing a college/university to attend is a tricky business. You can’t afford to make mistakes, because you have a lot at stake.
First of all, you will be making a lot of sacrifices; as an adult, most likely you have other responsibilities such as your job and your family.
Going back to school means you have to make compromises and arrangements in those two aspects of your life. You’ll have to stay up late to finish your papers and assignments and attend your classes, or you’ll have to work on the weekend to finish your work since you missed it before attending classes.
Secondly, you’ll have to spend a large amount of money to pay for your tuition fee. This is the money that you could spend on your family or save for the future. By going back to school, you’ll take a gamble that will or will not pay off.
Lastly, you’ll have to sacrifice the time you could’ve spent with your family. Time is a precious thing that once lost, we could never have back.
Therefore, It is imperative that you choose the right college for you after you decide to go back to school and pursue higher education
So, what are the most important things to consider when choosing a college? Honestly, that is the question only you could answer. You need to look deep inside you, and identify yourself; what are your goals? What are the things you’ll need to prepare?
Run a SWOT analysis on yourself, ask yourself the 5W1H questions regarding your wish to go back to school as an adult, then analyze the costs you need to spend and the benefits you’ll get after finishing school.
These FREE resources I provide could help you answer some of the questions you might have and help you gain some comprehension about yourself and what outcome you wish to have from this life-changing experience of going back to school as an adult learner or student mom/dad.
And when you decide that going back to school is the right move for you, you should avoid these types of colleges:
1. The Money-Oriented Ones
Although colleges are a business and therefore, they need to gain profit, money-oriented colleges are completely different. These types of colleges usually don’t have a competitive and strict admission selection process.
They admitted anyone who is interested and willing to pay the tuition, does not have a good reputation and high ranking.
Mostly, they don’t care whether you graduate or never attend classes (and eventually drop out of college), or if you even cut out for college at all (due to the low admission standard). They don’t care as long as you pay the tuition. Stay away from them. Here is a good reading if you want to know more.
2. The Ones That Do Not Fit Your Budget
For me, it goes without saying, I will stick to the ones that I can afford to pay, both the tuition fees and the living costs. In my case, I stayed in my country to study for my undergraduate level. In many countries in Asia, public universities offer good quality education at affordable prices.
But you have to be smart enough to pass the entrance exam since the spot is coveted by many. If you failed, you have an option of either enrolling in a private university and paying a whole lot more money, or you could take a gap year and use that time to study and try the public universities entrance exam again the next year.
For my Master’s degree (graduate school) I went abroad to study in Italy. Like many countries in Europe, Italy offers “free” education. Although I had to pay more since I chose an English-taught program, it was still an affordable option for me, since studying in Singapore or Australia (which geographically speaking, was more convenient for me) would cost me a lot more money.
As an Asian who went to school abroad in Europe, I must admit I don’t know much about student loans, apart from you will be ridden with debt by the time you graduate.
But if you think taking student loans is the best option for you, then go for it. Calculate everything carefully, how much you are going to take and how long will it take to pay them.
3. The Ones with Low or No Accreditation
A degree from an unaccredited institution may give you trouble in the future, particularly if you are thinking of continuing your education such as going to a graduate school or professional school afterward.
You will not be considered qualified or good enough to their standards, because they couldn’t determine the quality level of your previous educational institution.
And later on, you will also get trouble finding a job, because, without accreditation, you will find yourself with a degree that employers do not respect and acknowledge.
If you are applying to a college that is not nationally known, run a quick Google search to ensure they are accredited and that they’re not at risk of losing it in the near future. The best ones are accredited A, then B.
4. The Ones That Do Not Suit Your Goals.
What are your goals? Is the college could provide you with that? Or take you one step closer to your goals? While we know that the colleges you are applying to certainly have requirements, don’t forget you have requirements too.
Make a checklist of the things you want from a college (if you are still not sure what to look for, you can use this workbook. Don’t apply to a school that is not ticking the boxes on your checklist.
Surely no college is perfect, but make sure you determine which factors are the most important and non-negotiable. Determine the must-have things for you, and which ones you could tolerate if the college you surveyed doesn’t have them.
For example, as a student mom, a college with a childcare facility is a must, when you don’t have enough support systems at home. But when you could ask your mom or other family members to take care of your child(ren), the presence of a childcare facility is an added bonus and the lack of it will not go to affect your decision whatsoever.
Or if you want to transfer your credit from your previous education, most likely you will not be going to consider the ones who can’t accept your credit, since it means you have to waste money and time to start all over again from the beginning.
5. The Ones That Do Not Offer Your Intended Major
Don’t choose a college simply for its reputation. Although a school with a good reputation will give you better chance at employment, you still have to do the work for a certain period of time in your life.
Don’t risk doing things you don’t want to do and spend years of your working days feeling miserable because you choose college instead of the major that you are passionate about.
Don’t waste time applying (and definitely don’t waste time studying) there, just for the sake of going into the “top schools” if you won’t get the opportunity to study in your chosen field and interest.
6. The Ones With Unsuitable Geographic Locations
As adult students, we have other things to consider, such as work and families. Therefore, choose a college that is geographically convenient to you.
If you’ll have to go back on forth between home, work and campus, choose the one closer to home.
If you want to go to another city or study abroad, find a college that is not only the best option for you, academic-wise, but also located in a city or country that will be convenient for you to bring your family (ex: inexpensive living costs, the better quality of education for your children, good and healthcare systems and so on).
If you want to study in another city or country and couldn’t bring your family with you, but don’t want to be too far away from your family (your young children or perhaps ailing parents), choose the one with a good transportation system such as train or highway connecting the two cities or countries, so that you have several options to reach home.
Whether is also something to think about. Coming from a tropical country on the equator in South East Asia, I’m not used to cold weather. I had no idea how my body would react to living in cold weather for months and months.
For that reason, I narrowed down my option for studying abroad to southern European countries where the winter is still bearable for my tropical bones.
Choose carefully because when you study abroad or in another city, you will have to walk or use public transportation, if you could not or choose not to bring your car with you. The too-cold or too-hot temperature could be inconvenient.
Also, put your character and personality into consideration. Would you prefer to study in a big city with its lively and vibrant vibe? or would you prefer a smaller student city with a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere?
Each option has its pros and cons, list them carefully in this workbook to document your research. Compare them before you make any decision.
7. The Ones That Do Not Suit You Academically
It can be a university that will not challenge you or a college where you will be in a constant struggle to keep up. As an adult student, you have your own unique and specific reasons why you want to go back to school and continue your study.
Whatever your reasons are, you need to find the perfect balance. Find a place that will enable you to reach your goals, and where you can still keep up with the workload, despite having a job and family to take care of.
Therefore, choosing a graduate school or professional course which in line with your previous education and career field will be easier for you, since it will be up your alley, you just need to go deeper to master more specific aspects of your chosen field.
But don’t despair. If you want to go back to school because you want to change your career path and need to learn something completely new, it is still doable.
Identify the problems you might have and find a school and program which can solve your problems and accommodate your needs.
8. The Ones That Do Not Suit You Socially
You need to consider whether or not the university is the right social fit for you. And it’s more complicated than just “don’t choose a college famous for its student party if you don’t like partying”. As an adult student/student mom and dad, you have more things to consider.
Again, I will share my story as an example. In my country, as well as in other Asian countries, you’ll need to have at least a year or two of working experience before you continue your study to graduate school.
That’s because, in a graduate program, there will be more group projects and class discussions instead of listening more to the professor explaining theories like we used to have at the undergraduate level.
When participating, each of the students will bring on their competence and expertise from their work. Each will contribute to the discussion in their own unique ways, which in the end, enriches the discussion and make them more fruitful.
So, I was quite surprised when I came to study in Italy for my Master’s degree. It was my mistake. I didn’t realize that in Italy (well also in many countries apparently) students usually went straight to Graduate School after completing their undergraduate degree, and therefore, have no job experiences prior to entering Graduate School.
Which was fine, really. But many times, I felt that I didn’t get much from my classmates when it comes to discussing a topic.
There were plenty of things I thought we should already know by now and could move forward or go deeper, but for them is something totally new, due to the lack of work experience, and therefore, we spent more time discussing it.
Also, problems could also arise in group projects. When you have some work experience, you would know at least the basic work ethic, of what to do and what not to do when it comes to working together in a team.
But since almost all of them didn’t have any working experience yet, problems and conflicts could occur over simple things, that could easily be avoided if only they (well, some of them, not all) know how to work in a team.
As an adult student, of course, you know your classmates will be younger than you. But if experiencing unnecessary frustration by wasting time and energy to watch (sometimes even clean up) a mess or conflicts over some trivial things is not something you want to deal with on daily basis, choose colleges and majors that required the student to have some work experiences first.
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
9. The One You Have No Intention to Attend
It is good to have a backup plan and choose safe schools. But make sure that they are the ones you’ll be happy to attend, even though they are not your first option.
Don’t choose the ones where you know you would never attend even if they were the only ones that admitted you.
I don’t think I need to say much on this matter. As adult learners, I’m positive you know what you want from your investment of going back to school and therefore, you have a pretty good idea of where you want to go.
But still, sometimes things happen and derail our plan. Therefore, it is crucial that every choice you make is the one that you’ll be happy to follow through with.
Just choosing 2 or a maximum of 3 is enough. Research them carefully before making any decision, so that you know which 3 options are the best for you, and when you ended up in whichever school in those three choices, you’ll still be landing in the right place to start your back-to-school journey.
Over to You…
So there you go, those are the types of colleges you have to avoid. In summary, they are the money-oriented ones, the ones that don’t fit your budget, as well as your goals, the ones with low or no accreditation, and don’t have your intended major.
The ones with unsuitable geographic locations, unsuitable for you academically and socially, and the ones that you have no intention to attend also need to be avoided. Focus on looking for the best option for you and your future.
The most important thing is to DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! I’m sure there will be more things to pay close attention to when it comes to choosing a university, but those mentioned above are keys to helping you to avoid a situation that will frustrate you.
Take advantage of campus visits, virtual tours, and webinars held by the universities, read their brochures, visit their websites, and reach out to them if you have any inquiries.
Visit the education fairs and talk to the college representatives. Google the information you need, ask questions in the internet forum, and so on.
Gather information as much as you can. Write down the information in a specific place such as this workbook. You don’t even have to do anything, just put a checklist mark in the designated place (do they have a multimedia lab? Yes they do, check ) and write down specific information you need to know on the notes part.
Study them carefully, compare what you find, choose the right school for you, and make the best decision for you and your future!!!
What do you think? What types of college you will avoid at all costs? Do you have some comments? Anything to add? I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something. Leave a comment down below and let me know!!!
Could you please pin this and share them on social media? Maybe someone is applying for schools and this post will be useful for them. Many thanks before…
Till next time!!
- How to Choose a University If You Can’t Join Campus Tours
- How to Create a Productive Study Space for Adult Learners/ Student Moms
- How to Enjoy Study Abroad Experience as An Adult Student
- Thinking About Going Back to School as An Adult? Answer These Questions First!!!
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