Apple Psychological
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Planning for college can be a stressful and overwhelming task after high school. It requires that we choose what to study and what kind of program will align with our academic and professional goals. In addition, we also need to choose where to study or what type of college we want to attend. These can be daunting decisions to make, but with the proper support and resources available, the decision to attend community college or a university can be made simpler with the following planning method.

 This planning method will consist of five major steps:

  • Choose what we would like to study in college.
  • Research programs of interest at local colleges and in other states.
  • Decide to stay in-state or move out-of-state for college.
  • Determine a personal financial plan for college expenses depending on degree choice.
  • Reflect on personal values of receiving a college education and the type of experience that is desired.

Choosing What to Study in College

Choosing a major, minor or a general direction of what to study in college can be filled with so much pressure from so many directions. Our high school teachers might be interested in the direction we would like to choose, our parents might want us to make a decision quickly, and our peer network is filled with a sense of competition and comparison based on college choice. I have learned that starting this decision-making process early in high school can bring a sigh of relief when senior year rolls around and we are scrambling to fill out college applications. Some people who do not start this process early on, can become indecisive after high school, making it difficult to discover their individual career path.

Recommendations for success:

  1. Reach out to your school counselor and discuss your options.
  2. Ask your school counselor for a career assessment to fill out if you are unsure.
  3. Do your research about career options and reflect on how you want to contribute to the world as an adult.

Research Programs of Interest

If you have a general idea of what you want to study in college and need to refine your decision or need help deciding between two completely different majors, it is wise to do your research on what colleges offer in terms of program details (in-person or online), courses offered, and program requirements for graduation. Browsing through an academic program itinerary can put into perspective what courses will be taken, how the schedule for the program is laid out, and what to expect or how to succeed in the program. Choosing a program that aligns with your personal, professional, and academic goals will allow you to get the most out of your college education.


Recommendations for success:

  1. Start with a wide search of colleges that offer programs of interest to you.
  2. Narrow your list down to 5 colleges that are in your state.
  3. Don’t be afraid to look at out-of-state colleges that offer programs of interest.


In-State or Out-of-State

For this section, I will discuss the process of choosing between an in-state or out-of-state college. There are pros and cons to each and it just depends on your trajectory after high school. Attending college in-state is less expensive compared to moving out of state directly out of high school. Usually, if a student decides to attend college within the same year that they moved, they will pay out-of-state tuition costs, which is considerably higher than in-state tuition. Some students will opt to take a gap year while gaining residency in their new state.


Recommendations for success:

  1. Compare programs of interest in-state and out-of-state.
  2. Choose 5 colleges (in-state or out-of-state) that are a good fit for your academic, professional, and lifestyle goals.
  3. Consider applying to those 5 colleges’ programs of interest.

Personal Financial Plan

Depending on whether you are supporting yourself or have help from family during college, it will be important to create a budget or financial plan for college-related expenses. Tuition alone is a hefty price these days, but you also have to consider paying for textbooks, and dorm and meal-plan costs if you plan to stay on the campus of a university. If you feel like you need financial aid or want to apply for scholarships or federal grants, starting this process sooner rather than later can ease your burden when college courses begin. Once you have chosen your college and program of interest, applied, and been accepted, speaking with someone through the financial aid and scholarships department can help answer any questions you may have regarding the process.


Recommendations for success:

  1. Determine if you can pay for college-related expenses out of pocket.
  2. Determine how much money you can spend on college-related expenses each semester.
  3. Apply for scholarships and financial aid if necessary.


Personal Values

Choosing to attend a 2-year community college or a 4-year university is a decision that comes with a lot of reflection. You will need to reflect on how important college is to you, how serious you are about receiving a college education, and how that college degree will benefit you in the next phase of your life. Aside from those big-picture reflections, it will ultimately come down to your personal preference for a college experience. It is ok if you are unsure of what you want to study! Make the best decision for you with the information that you have at the time.


Recommendations for success:

  1. Start your college search early in high school.
  2. Reach out to your school counselors for support and guidance.
  3. Communicate with and involve your parents, family, or friends in the decision-making process.


Are you looking for a safe space to discuss decisions regarding college and further education? Together we can provide you support and guidance at Apple Psychological. See our website to learn more about the services our practice offers, including the College Transition Team. Call us today at (917) 526-0766 or book online HERE.

In addition, Apple Psychological offers other Support for parents and teens. Find out more information and Register HERE or book a free consultation by Clicking Here