This is a question you need to spend a considerable amount of time trying to answer. Think about your interests, your likes and dislikes; not just in academics but in all areas. What are you passionate about? That's a great place to start. It is a good idea to talk to people about their careers. For example, if you are interested in medicine, talk to a doctor and ask questions about college, medical school and life as a doctor. Use these links to find out more information about every career imaginable.
Most importantly, develop a goal. Will it change? Most likely, but you need to get started. The sooner you focus on something, the sooner you can get started making it happen.
Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit
Questions for the Admissions Office
- Are the dorms spread throughout the campus or clustered in one area? Is there any kind of shuttle service between classroom areas, the library, the student union, and dorms? How late does it run?
- Is there any security system to bar outsiders from entering dorms?
- How large is the campus security police force? Does it patrol the campus regularly?
- What services are offered by the campus health center? How large is it?
- Does the student health center refer students to the local hospital? Is there a nearby hospital? How large is it?
Questions for Students
- How many of your courses are taught by a big-name professor and how many by a teaching assistant?
- Is the teaching innovative and project-oriented, or is it mostly lecture-oriented?
- Do most freshmen class lectures take place in an amphitheater?
- What are the strong majors? The weak majors?
- How hard do you have to work for your grades?
- What's the reputation of the _____________ department?
- How adequate for your needs is the campus computer network?
- Do fraternities and sororities dominate the social life of the college?
- What do students do on weekends? Do most go home?
- How is the advisement system? Do you feel that your professors really care?
- There are a lot of organizations on campus. Are they dominated by a few groups or is anyone welcome?
- How active is the _________ [fill in the activity in which you're interested]? Has _________ won any national awards?
Questions to Ask Yourself About the Campus Atmosphere
- While you were waiting for your interview in the admissions office, how did the staff members interact with students? Were they friendly, or did the staff approach students—both potential freshmen like you and enrolled students—as if they were interfering with the staff members' jobs?
- Was the Admissions Office a friendly and inviting place with a great deal of information about the school, or was it cold and sterile with little information to pick up?
- What did your parents find out about the career planning services offered to graduating seniors and to graduates? What do the services include?
About the Student Body
- Do most of the students seem to be like you, or are they completely different?
- Either way, how would you feel being in a classroom full of these students? Sharing a dorm with them?
- Do the students try to make you feel at home? Are they happy to answer your questions, or do they make you feel like you're intruding? How do they interact with one another?
About the Campus
- Does the campus seem too big? Or too small?
- Do freshmen live in their own dorms? How do I feel about living in a single-sex or coed dorm?
- Are the dorms quiet or noisy? Do they seem crowded?
- How large are the rooms? Is there adequate space and light to study?
- Does each room have access to the Internet and the campus LAN?
- What's advertised on dorm and classroom bulletin boards? What does this tell me about campus life?
- How good is the lighting around each dorm and around classroom and lab buildings?
- Do the buildings and grounds look well cared for? Or do they need painting and general repair work?
- Is the grass cut, and are the grounds landscaped?
- What's the condition of the playing fields and the sports equipment?
- How is the quality of the food in the cafeteria or dining hall? How are the sizes of the portions? Is it healthy or fast food? Are there meal plans?
About the Nearby Area
- Does it look like there is much to do outside of campus?
- How easy is to get to places off campus? Are there places within walking distance?
- Do you feel comfortable and safe?
- Are there places to get extra furniture, like bookcases, for your dorm room?
- Is there a supermarket nearby to stock up on snacks and soda?
- If you move out of a dorm after freshman year, what are the options in apartment complexes or buildings?
Tech/Career School or Four Year University?
A traditional college degree or a technical/career school which will it be for you? It might be a good idea to make a list of the pros and cons of each in order to make the best decision for your circumstances. You should write down both the benefits and the disadvantages of each type of learning institution. Do you have a specific career goal? Write it down. Are there some school subjects that you just can’t stand? Make a note of them. Can you fit the rigorous schedule of a four year college or university into your life? Would you prefer classes that meet at night, or perhaps distance learning where you use a computer to study at a time and place convenient for you? What is your dream job, and what sort of training do you need to make this job happen? How much will college or technical training cost? All of these questions are important in helping you to make a decision, and only you can answer them.
Traditional colleges and universities allow you to expand your mind and study subjects you might never get a chance to pursue again. Traditional colleges can open your eyes to the world around you. You will meet people from all over the globe who are in pursuit of the same goal as you higher education. Aside from academics, college life is an experience you wont soon forget. Attendance at a traditional college can lend an air of prestige to a job application, something that may or may not be of interest to you.
Technical and career schools allow you to receive training or a diploma in a much shorter time than a traditional college. The classes are more focused on the subject you want to learn about without many of the other required courses that you may have to take at a traditional college. The training is hands-on, so necessary in today’s world. The class schedules are more flexible than those of traditional colleges. There will always be a need for career training. In fact, some of the fastest growing jobs do not require a four year college diploma. Medical and dental assistants, physical and respiratory therapists, medical record and environmental science technicians are just a few of these. Even though, for some reason, our society seems to feel that college is a necessity for all young people, the jobs listed above, and many more, prove that a diploma from a four-year college is not absolutely needed in order to have a well-paying job.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you. The best way to choose between a traditional college or a technical/career school is to weigh the pros and cons of each, and know what you want out of life. No matter what you choose, you can rest assured that there will be a place for you in the world after you have taken the time to further your education.
How do you choose a college major?
Explore Careers-Occupation Handbook (Bureau of Labor)
Community Colleges in Texas
Texas Public Universities