Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Its College Application Time!

As the tnAchieves College Application Deadline of April 13th steadily approaches, choosing your post-secondary institution can be an equally stressful and exciting experience. 
When choosing where to attend college, I had only two schools in mind: a large state school that was hours from home, and a small private university in my hometown. I remember sitting with my parents, weighing the options, discussing every detail—how much was tuition if I did not have a scholarship? How many hours a week would I need to work and how many hours of classes would I take? Most importantly, was the school right for the type of student that I am? This last question proved to be the deciding factor and I chose the private university. I knew that the smaller school was the best choice for me, that I would receive the hands-on support I needed, and that I could utilize the scholarship offered that was not available for me at the larger university.
In high school, I sat through classes that had an average of around 25 students each. In college, I was in a class with 4. My professors knew my name before the first day.  When I missed a class, they would call my cell phone during class time to ask where I was. This was quite a change from graduating from a high school with over 3,000 students.
When I hear the reasons why many students choose to attend community college before transferring to a four-year institution, I see many similarities in their decision-making with my own. Community colleges emphasize intimate learning environments, maintain student activities on a more manageable scale, and allow students to earn their degree in a timely, affordable manner.
I have friends and family who attended larger schools, had wonderful experiences, and have graduated into very successful jobs. The same story goes for classmates from my smaller college. The key to finding your best fit is being self-aware as a student, knowing what you can and cannot handle, and knowing what your options are. Take campus tours. Sit with an advisor to discuss your options. Speak with other students about their experiences. And get those college applications in by April 13th!

-Kaci Murley
Memphis/Shelby Achieves Coordinator