There are many factors to consider in choosing where to pursue post-secondary education, as Lyford Cay Foundations explains . . .
Imagine it. From across the store you spot the best looking pair of shoes you’ve ever seen.
Since they’re the last pair left on the shelf, you dash over to grab them.
But you quickly realise there’s a problem - they’re two sizes too small. After lots of toe wiggling and shoe tugging, you’re faced with a sad reality.
They’re just not the right fit for you!
A college search is the same. You can’t make a perfect fit of a college that doesn’t meet your needs. Finding the right fit is important, because a college that meets your needs gives you the greatest chance of successfully completing your programme and graduating.
Luxzonica Young, a Lyford Cay Scholar at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, advises students to take a hard look at their college choices before making a decision.
“I initially attended a college in West Virginia. I thought it would be great, but it didn’t take me long to realise that the lack of diversity and remote location just wasn’t for me,” she said.
“Now, I’m at a school that I love where I have met so many different people from all over the world. And I’m confident that my programme will prepare me to return to the Bahamas and become a well-trained physiotherapist.”
So how do you weigh your college options as you embark on those college applications?
Factors to guide your search for the best fit should include:
Of course, you’re looking for a college that has a strong programme in your field of study, but also consider these questions:
• Does the college offer learning opportunities that excite you? You’re more likely to succeed if you are excited about the options.
• Does the overall learning style of the college fit your personal learning style? Do you prefer informative lectures or lively discussions? Research or hands on experience? Drafting papers or working in small groups? Reviewing course descriptions will give you an idea of the college’s overall feel. If you’re able to, try to visit the campus and sit in on some classes.
You may spend several years in college, so quality of life is important. Be sure to research essential details that may seem small, such as residential living options, campus dining and recreation.
Questions to ponder include:
• Do you want the excitement of a big school or the comfort and security of a small one?
• How will the campus geographical location and weather impact you? Are you energised by the thought of a cold climate or absolutely terrified?
• Are you dreaming of a busy urban setting, a remote country location or a suburban setting that’s in between?
• Does the school have options to support your hobbies and interests?
• Are there other Bahamians at the college? Is there an active association of Caribbean students? Or will you be the only student from your culture on campus?
The cost of college is one of the biggest areas of concern for most students. Financial worries during your college years can be greatly reduced by thinking through these questions:
• Are the schools that you’ve applied to a good value for the money? Is there a less expensive option that is just as academically strong?
• Have you investigated college options here at home? Both the University of The Bahamas and Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute offer a number of internationally respected programmes.
• Have you and your family openly discussed the cost of the college you want to attend and created a plan? Most college finance plans include a mix of personal savings, loans and scholarships.
• Does your college pick make you eligible for local scholarships such as Lyford Cay Foundations scholarships or Ministry of Education, Science and Technology scholarships? Remember that local scholarship programmes will favour students who have chosen a well-respected college and a major that prepares you to fulfil the future needs of the country.
For more information about how to find the best college fit, visit www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org.
NEXT WEEK: the comforts of a university at home
“Gain An Edge” is a collaboration of the Lyford Cay Foundations, Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and University of The Bahamas aimed at promoting a national dialogue on higher education. To share your thoughts, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org