7 Things to Consider Before Committing to a School

 7 Things to Consider Before Committing to a School

Congratulations, you’ve been admitted to a college! You have only just begun to work towards your bachelor’s degree. The next step is to weigh your acceptances to find the best fit for your targeted educational path. Here are 7 Things to Consider Before Committing to a School:

  1. Environment – What type of environment will best suit you as you pursue your bachelor’s degree? Think not only about the general considerations of geography in your county, state or region, across of the country or within the country (or even an international location), but also if are you looking for an urban or suburban location.

Do you prefer to achieve your bachelor’s degree at a special interest school concentrated around religion? One private by gender? With a large Greek life or campus life? With particular athletics or other extra-curricular activities? Are you looking to go to school with friends or classmates from high school or making a giant leap into independence? Do take into consideration the actual campus and classrooms – will you be driving to/from school or living on campus? Is the campus walkable or will you need to a car, bicycle or other transportation to get from one area to another or do they provide cross-campus transportation? What did you like or dislike about your high school so that you can compare similarities and make adjustments?

Weighing these initial options may provide the first level of your checklist as you compare your acceptances to find your best fit where you will thrive.

  1. Facilities – In addition to having on-campus residence halls or labs related to your program of study, what else does your potential campus have to offer? Are there fitness centers? Computer labs? How does the library compare and what hours does it operate? Are there healthy dining options accessible to fuel your mind and body? (And, how is the food?) These aspects of campus life may greatly contribute to your success.
  1. Cost – Whether you are attending college or university on a Warner Pacific scholarship, with financial aid or will be paid-in-full, the price of tuition is a significant factor for most students. According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2016–2017 school year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. This does not include room and board, books or other potential charges that will impact the budget.

Perhaps you’re planning to live at home and commute, in which case your budget would need to consider gas, tolls, parking passes, etc. Or, if you’re living far from home you may need to account for traveling for the holidays and summer break, furnishing your campus housing and even the storage of furnishings while away for the summer.

  1. Academics & Faculty – If you already know the field of study for your bachelor’s degree, how do the schools where you were accepted rank? U.S. News and World Report publishes an annual list searchable by nearly 50 different types of numerical rankings and lists to help you narrow your choice. For instance, if you wanted to review rankings of liberal arts colleges within 50 miles of Dallas, TX, this report would give you an opportunity to compare schools meeting the academic profile, and can then further narrow down selections by cost, classroom size, and other related factors.

What is the ratio of faculty to students? What are the credentials of the faculty in your program of study and what do other students have to say about them? You can review student commentary at a site like RateMyProfessors.com.

What is the class structure? Are there tutoring services available as part of your tuition or available with added fees?  Some colleges such as Warner Pacific in Portland, OR offer coursework tutoring as well as academic training including building a foundation of positive study skills.

  1. Transfer Credits – If you have already started working toward your bachelor’s degree at a community college or have earned high school Advanced Placement credits, will the school(s) you’re considering accept these? As outlined by Warner Pacific College, it is often “at the discretion of accepting institutions what credits meet institutional equivalents for transfer.” This may not be an initial factor, but in a compare and contrast evaluation between colleges, consider the work you may have already posted toward your degree.
  1. Graduation Rate – Researching the school’s rankings, faculty credentials and reputation will provide some of the story, but you may also wish to review the school’s overall graduation rate as well as any statistics within your targeted bachelor’s degree concentration. According to CampusExplorer.com, most schools have a graduation rate of 60 to 80 percent. Is your major along the higher end of this scale at the school(s) where you’ve been accepted?
  1. Job Placement Rate & Support – What is the job placement rate at the school(s) you’re evaluating? If available, review job placement data published by your school or in national directories. Also, investigate if the school offers job placement services. Many schools will provide up to six months of career counseling and job search assistance as your success will ultimately reflect upon the program’s impact in the field of study.

Does the placement support only apply post-graduation, or will your school assist with internship placements that will better prepare you for the post-college working environment? Additionally, you might consider reviewing the esteemed alumni from your targeted school(s) working in said area of interest. These success stories may support your decision-making process or offer the opportunity to further discuss your career objectives with someone who can personally respond to questions or reservations you may have when deciding upon your college path.

In theory, you’ve considered many of these attributes when you first applied to your targeted colleges, but the seven items outlined may help you make your final decision and thrive in pursuit of your bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts college.

It’s not always an easy decision, but it’s one that with careful evaluation should set you off on a path to success.

 

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What to Expect from Your Freshman Year of College

College is a big change regardless of whether you’re attending a college from out of state or commuting you’re your parents’ house. You’re transitioning from a high school where you spent some of your most impressionable years with the same group of people and now you’re in a completely new environment; new professors; new classmates; new schedule.

What to Expect from Your Freshman Year of CollegeIt’s exciting! It’s daunting. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that no one person can really prepare you for. That said, here are some things you should expect.

1. With great freedom comes great responsibility

You are in control of your schedule; you have the freedom to add classes that appeal to your lifestyle. Tired of waking up early? Book some late afternoon or night classes. Want to work out midday? Schedule classes around that time slot. You have the flexibility to arrange your courses however you want. That said however, no one is going to micromanage you to ensure that you attend the classes – let alone show up on time.

Whereas in high school, you may receive a detention or a phone call home for missing a class. In college, it’s completely on you to monitor your schedule. If you don’t, you’ll be dropped from the course, which may not sound like a big deal now, but if the course is only offered every Spring semester, then this can easily add on additional semesters (or even years) to your college career.

More freedom means more responsibility, remember that. Professors will treat you like the adult you are, so don’t necessarily expect them to approach you about late assignments; if you’re struggling with the workload, you need to approach your professors.

2. It can get lonely

This applies to students commuting to school or living on campus. Typically, there’s a great deal of excitement right out of the gate, but when times get tough and you start feeling the stress of midterms, you may yearn for your familiar friends and traipsing across your old stomping grounds.

It’s natural to feel that way, but don’t give up. You’re being exposed to a tremendous amount of change and some of your endeavors, extracurricular activities and friends will pan out, others won’t. Remember that this experience is almost as much about getting a bachelor’s degree as it is about finding out who you are. In these moments of hardship, don’t make rash decisions about your major or your new friends and pursue your faith. One of the benefits of attending a Christian college is you have a community of people who are there to welcome you with open arms, who understand hardship.

It’s easy to fall back on what’s familiar, but Christian universities foster a community that’s ready to support you and embrace you for who you are.

3. Being a student is a full-time job (and then some)

It’s not just that you have a lot of homework, but you have a lot of reading, projects, papers – oh yes, the papers. No matter what your major is, chances are you’re going to need to write a paper for it. It’s not simply that classes are lengthy, but the homework is a hefty load as well. Even if you only have 3 hours of classes one day, the country averages you have two hours of homework for each class – and any college student will tell you, that’s a conservative estimate.

No matter how well you plan, chances are high that you’re going to have a few all-nighters trying to finish (or perfect) a paper. It is not easy. However, the best way to overcome this stress is to treat school like a full-time job. Budget time for homework; budget time for breaks. If you’re feeling exhausted, make time for a nap and reward yourself when you can.

Plus, this is in large part why colleges offer so many extra-curricular activities and events. You need to be able to unwind, to release stress, to socialize, and to have fun. It’s about finding a balance. You will learn to organize as a consequence of stress and this is a skill that will only help you in life.

4. You need to slow down

Chances are, when you first enrolled in college, you saw the sum of all the units you need to graduate and the list of classes, and you felt overwhelmed – maybe a little excited, but ultimately overwhelmed. This is four years you’re committing to and it can feel like a lot, so much so, that you may feel driven to sign up for a lot of classes initially and overextend yourself to try and speed up the process.

Slow down.

By this point in your life, you don’t need to be told “life moves so fast,” as you’ve already been told this on repeat from your parents (and everyone else’s). However, four years is a long time and you don’t want to miss out on meeting friends and trying new activities by bogging yourself down with endless studies.

In addition to this, you may feel like general education courses are limiting you – as many people want to dive into their majors right away. The fact is though, students change their majors and the last thing you want is to enroll in a slew of major-specific courses, only to realize that it’s not something you want to pursue beyond college. General education courses may feel like a formality and, at times, tedious, but these courses not only introduce you to other fields of study, but they’ll also pair you with students you would otherwise have never met. Embrace this.

5. You will learn who you are

Each year builds on top of the others and you will discover your likes and dislikes. Your group of friends freshman year may be completely different by your senior year. College reintroduces you to yourself. It puts you in a new, high stress environment and you have to adapt to it.

Don’t feel beholden to epiphanies you experienced in high school, be open to new ideas. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, he writes, “Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today. – You shall be misunderstood. Is it so bad to be misunderstood?”

That’s the point, you are not limited to who you were, but being a student means becoming more of who you are everyday; constantly learning; constantly changing. And if it sounds scary, then you should doubly consider attending a Christian university. In times of great stress, you will have a community to lift you back up if you fall.

 

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Future Career Paths with a Prelaw Degree

Prelaw degrees are easily one of the most underrated majors pursued, so much so that many schools don’t even offer this as a major. However, this degree not only prepares prospective students for law school, but also offers some immediate career paths (as varied as they are prestigious); many of which are jobs that can be held while pursuing your law school degree.

Future Career Paths with a Prelaw DegreePrelaw majors enroll in a wide variety of courses to prepare them for the different careers available. These classes range from history and philosophy to political science and psychology. Prelaw students are taught to think analytically and critically as well as have a deep understanding of human behavior – after all, so many of the careers available require you to deduce how trustworthy a source is.

Just what are those careers? Let’s dive into it.

Paralegal

For starters, with a prelaw degree you can become a paralegal – a career that’s grown by 17%. Typically, you need some form of certification to become a paralegal, but there are many companies that accept new employees with a prelaw degree and offer on-the-job training for them.

In terms of the paralegal duties, paralegals are the legal assistants to lawyers. Paralegals write the reports, develop the proper documentation for a case, make trial notes, and even conduct interviews with clients and witnesses. In addition, a paralegal does just about anything the supervising attorney assigns them. For that reason, the tasks are varied and manifold.

All this said, paralegals CANNOT provide legal advice to a client or try cases themselves – that can only be done after law school. Of course, given the amount of work to be done as a paralegal, this may come as a relief. In some respects, paralegals are to attorneys what nurses are to doctors.

Private Investigator

Paralegals are far from the only career path however. Another venue graduating prelaw students take is private investigation. Private investigators conduct research, background checks, surveillance, and occasionally confront people face-to-face.

Becoming a P.I. is a bit like taking on an entrepreneurial role. The hours vary and you often work more hours than a standard 9-5 job which can make it challenging to be a private investigator and attend law school at the same time. That said, the work can be among the most interesting. You could be hired by a company seeking background checks on potential hires or a spouse wanting to know if their partner is cheating. The best thing about being a P.I. however is there is no shortage of interesting cases, so if you need variety to stay engaged in your work, this may be the career path for you.

Labor Relations

A labor relations specialist is an excellent choice for people interested in getting into politics or holding public office. Typically, a labor relations specialist is hired by companies in a sort of human resources role. Their job is to negotiate contracts between employers and their employees. This can include (and is not limited to) changing working conditions, determining benefits and rates (or raises) for advancement.

The other venue many prelaw students take who are interested in labor relations, is politics. This doesn’t necessarily mean running for public office (although it can), but many people can serve as political aides, providing advisory council to people running. Obviously, many people turn to this type of career due to the rewarding feeling that comes from their work; they feel like they’re making a difference.

All that said, there are also a wide variety of careers open to you after attending Law School as well.

Passing the Bar

After students obtain their prelaw degree, many pursue law school immediately thereafter. To do that, you need to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). On its own, this test is challenging to say the least – and it’s why many prelaw graduates are better prepared.

Of course, the next step is applying to different law schools (although only ones that are ABA-approved – there are only 200 or so) and sending your samples and transcripts to LSAC – which then passes your papers on to all the law schools you’ve applied to.

So, once you’ve passed your LSAT, been accepted into law school, completed your courses, and passed the Bar exam, then you can move forward into a wide variety of careers.

Attorney

The foremost obvious choice is becoming an attorney. Attorneys are lawyers that provide legal counsel for a wide array of clients ranging from civil suits to criminal cases or corporate law. Chances are good that once you’ve passed the bar, you already know what kind of lawyer you want to be, so here’s a rundown of all the choices available.

You could become a trial lawyer which is a very active role and depends heavily on your charisma. A trial lawyer must master public speaking and the art of persuasion after all, you’re trying to convince an objective audience to believe your side of the story – and your side can differ greatly depending on whether you choose to be a plaintiff’s lawyer or the defendant’s attorney. You must have an analytical eye and be able to adapt on the fly.

Another route you can take is to become a corporate lawyer. A corporate lawyer is less in the public eye and works with numbers, businesses, and financing if that’s more your forte. Corporate lawyers make air-tight contracts for B2B companies and ensures that all transactions are legal, abiding by the state and federal laws. This becomes especially important with businesses developing their own intellectual properties or for pharmaceutical companies. Of course, even businesses simply looking to expand their headquarters benefit from a corporate lawyer to ensure they’re following proper zoning laws.

Whichever route you decide to take, a prelaw degree will help you get there; whether you’re looking to work immediately after or take the LSAT and move on to law school. There’s no better place to obtain your prelaw degree than at Warner Pacific College.

 

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