College can be an incredibly rich and beneficial experience. It not only exposes one to new people, experiences, and ideas, but it also increases the chances of earning a higher salary and decreases the chance of unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college graduates have an unemployment rate of 2.1% and weekly earnings of $1,310, in contrast to those with a high school diploma, who have a 3.9% unemployment rate and weekly earnings of $726.
If you’re considering going to college, here are some preparations you might add to your to-do list and some resources that can help:
I. Choosing a Career
One of the first areas of consideration is deciding what kind of profession you would like to pursue. The U.S. Department of Labor has a resource called My Next Move, which allows you to explore a wide range of professions and includes what they do, the necessary skills and education, and the outlook for that line of work.
Another similar resource is the Occupational Outlook Handbook produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This offers an overview of various professions and projects what percentage of employment an occupation will change over the next 10 years.
Lastly, Career Transitions, available with your MCPL Access Pass (Library card), provides information about numerous careers and incorporates videos with “a day in the life.” You can also use this resource to build a resume and search for jobs and internships.
II. College Admissions Test Preparation
Another major step in preparing for college is taking a college admissions exam. The Library has several Test Preparation books for the ACT and SAT that you can use to study for these exams. MCPL also offers LearningExpress Library, which has practice tests for the ACT and SAT, and Tutor.com, which allows you to take practice tests and connect with a live tutor.
III. Choosing a College
While there are lists of best colleges and those that give you the best value for your money, these can only take you so far in deciding which school is right for you. Other factors―such as does the school offer courses in your desired program of study or what is the size, location, and cost of a particular school―are also important.
The U.S. Department of Education has produced several resources to help you with these kinds of questions, including College Navigator as well as the Net Price Calculator, which has information on the costs of a particular school with an individualized estimate of what you might pay. In addition, their College Scorecard allows you to search for schools and compare them in terms of cost, graduation rate, salary after attending, and other metrics.
IV. Financial Resources
Another important consideration is how to secure the financial resources you need to attend your school of choice. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step in applying for grants, scholarships, and loans. MCPL is offering several FAFSA Walk-Through Events to help.
The Student Federal Aid website is the go-to place to find out information about the FAFSA and learn about other related areas, such as defining the various types of aid and explaining who is available to get them. In addition to this resource, the U.S. Department of Labor has produced a Scholarship Finder, which allows you to search for financial aid, including scholarships, grants, and fellowships.
Good luck preparing for college; and remember, your local Library is here to help!
Woodneath Library Center