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.



Increasing graduation rates

In response to the editorial “Student debt’s growing risk, reward,” that appeared in the Sunday, June 29, 2014, Oregonian, Warner Pacific provided the following commentary from Dale Seipp, Jr., Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing at the College:

Warner Pacific student studyingI was pleased to see the [Oregonian] editorial staff clearly lay out the benefits of investing in a college education. Having worked in Oregon higher education for 25 years, I have witnessed its changing landscape and have walked alongside students experiencing the trials and triumphs of earning their degree.

One important area that the editorial board did not touch upon, is the need to increase graduation rates among students from diverse backgrounds and those who will be the first in their families to earn a degree. With our state’s rapidly changing demographics, the fastest growing population segments; low-income, first-generation, and minority youth are the least likely to earn college degrees.

At Warner Pacific College (SE Portland), we have established a track record for making college affordable and accessible to all students:

  • Warner Pacific science classroomWe reduced tuition by 23% in 2008, and have worked to keep our tuition increases lower than the average increase level nationally each year.
  • Our tuition and fees are 33% lower than other private colleges in the Northwest.
  • The College provides 10 full-need scholarships each year to emerging urban leaders through the Urban Service Track of the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative.
  • We are improving persistence and achievement through academic, spiritual, vocational, and mentoring support so that students not only enroll, but succeed in graduating.
  • Our faculty is exploring innovative teaching strategies to address the specific needs of students coming from generational, working class, situational, and immigrant poverty.

This multi-dimensional approach is working. In 2013, 53% of our first-year traditional undergraduate students identified as persons of color. As our institutions continue to serve a student body that includes many who are the first in their family to go to college, who demonstrate high financial need, and who are from diverse backgrounds, it is important that we provide students with the tools they need to confidently manage the financial realities of completing a college degree.

We also need to recognize that it often takes graduates some time to build their income capacity after completing college, which is why Warner Pacific launched “Freedom to Flourish,” a groundbreaking loan repayment assistance program for incoming, first-time freshmen who enroll in the traditional undergraduate program beginning in the fall of 2014 and in the fall of 2015. The first program of its kind in the Portland Metro area, “Freedom to Flourish” provides assistance for all federal, private, and parent PLUS loans to students who earn less than $37,000 a year after graduation.

Commitment to diversity in higher education cannot stop at enrollment. Institutions must take the time to work closely with students and their families, ensuring that their needs are being met financially, academically, socially, and spiritually.

Dale Seipp, Jr.