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How to Apply to Colleges

Applying for college admission is detailed and difficult. Though some countries may have slightly different requirements and timelines, some basic guidelines pretty much apply across the board. The process ideally begins in the junior year of high school. Usually prospective students are required to meet multiple requirements, some of which have strict deadlines.

Preparation, and taking it a step at a time, can make the system less daunting. Advisers are available to guide students through the steps. Here are some tips for how to apply to colleges.

1. Start in High School

In your junior year of high school, start making a list of possible colleges. Consider their academics, programs, costs, location, size, and other factors like entrance examination requirements etc.

Learn about their admissions policies and standards, to discern whether they might consider your grades, test scores, and other qualifications adequate. You may not have taken the right classes in high school to get you into a college.

If your shortlisted colleges require you to take any admission tests – like SAT- 1, ACT, IELTS &/or TOEFL – the ideal time to appear for any of these tests is by the end of your Junior Year or at the begining of Senior year. Since most examination scores have a validity of – at least – two or more years, this schedule would ensure you can devote optimum time to your senior year academics and grades.
By the summer before your senior year in high school, you should be ramping up your efforts. This is the time to decide where to apply. Read guidebooks and school rankings. Get help from admissions-office advisers or private counselors.

Schedule campus visits, and while at the colleges complete their interview requirements. Take admission tests or entrance exams. Whittle your list to a few schools, and begin writing the mandated essays.

2. Prepare Applications

The typical deadline for applications to colleges for the fall semester is Jan. 1, though some schools accept them as early as the previous fall. It is recommended that you file as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of acceptance.

The actual filing of applications and associated paperwork has become much easier in recent years. While this can still be done by regular mail, most colleges accept the common application. It is a standard online form, developed by a nonprofit organization, that makes it easy to email applications to all the schools on your final list.

Some colleges have their own forms, or require essays and supplementary materials. Applications generally ask for grade-point average, standardized-test scores, class rank, SAT or ACT scores, extracurricular activity record, awards, and other information.

3. Pay Application Fees

At last report, colleges were charging an average of $60 in application fees. Some impose fees of $200 or more. However, there are schools that waive these costs for online applicants.

Some colleges provide free applications for relatives of their alumni, students recommended by other graduates, and those who demonstrate financial need. You might be able to have fees waived by taking part in interviews or writing additional essays.

4. Submit Other Materials

Colleges vary in their requirements, but it is common for them to ask for an essay that is sometimes called a “personal statement.” You will be asked to answer a question, in your own words, in 300 or more words. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage, sentence structure, and other writing abilities are needed for this task. You might have to write other essays, as well. Have someone possessing such skills edit anything you write.

In addition to essays, you will have to send each school your high school transcript, and recommendations by teachers or guidance counselors.

The competition is intense for admission to many colleges and universities. Only those who have the proper credentials are considered. There are ways to improve your odds of getting into the college of your dreams, or at least one near the top of your list. Follow these steps, and get a great start on your post-secondary experience.

6 Advices on Helping Your Child Pick the Right Program

When students are evaluating universities and colleges, it is usually a very stressful experience for parents as well. Ensuring that your child picks a program that best matches his/her interests and career plans is a difficult job. However, with a little patience and research parents can guide their children in the right direction and help them make a decision that will prove to be beneficial in the long run.

Helping your children discover their interests

While some students have very clear career aspirations, many tend to be quite confused. As a parent, one of the best things you can do is to discuss and evaluate all options available, listen to their future plans and help them find their ambition and interests. If your child is still not sure what course interests them, they could take an online Stamford Test. This online questionnaire matches courses and interests based on user responses.

Academic Vs Vocational course

One of the first decisions parents have to help their children with is deciding between a vocational or an academic university course. Certain courses are quite general, for example geography and English literature, and they usually lead to several different career options. Some other courses lead to a very specific job such as medicine and dentistry while others will equip a student for career options in a single area such as catering or media studies. Discuss the pros and cons of these options with your child before picking an academic or a vocational course.

Course content

Before picking a university program, check the course outline of each program and compare them. Almost all courses are made up of optional as well as compulsory modules. Ensure that the course covers a subject your child is really interested in. Parents and students can also contact the university to check if certain subjects are available optionally.

Career options available

It is important to select a university program that will prepare your child for their professional career in the future. Most universities have information available about the kind of roles their students secure once they graduate. You can also consult a career counselor or a professional in your chosen field to discuss your child’s career aspirations to get recommendations about programs that they think would be the most appropriate. If your child has not yet decided on a concrete career choice, it would be important to select a flexible program that allows them to learn transferable skills that can be used in a wide range of roles. It is also important for a program to include career services as well as internships or other opportunities to gain some work experience.

Method of teaching

Talk to the university to learn more about the method of teaching for the particular course, the support provided to students and the level of difficulty. You would want to select a program that will challenge your child but also provide the necessary support required to be academically successful. Based on your knowledge of your child’s learning abilities, you may want to select a course that offers opportunities for field trips, academic lectures, and practical work or smaller student groups. Parents also need to consider the course structure to learn more about the assessment method of the program and if it is suitable for their child.

Admission requirements

Once you have narrowed down to a few university programs, you will also need to consider the program’s admission requirements to ensure your child will be accepted at the university. It is generally a good idea to have a few options to select from and apply to more than one program so you won’t be left disappointed. Ensure your child has enough time to prepare for the admission process. With complete support of parents, students have a far better chance of succeeding at university.

Acclaimed Engineering Schools

Some of the highest-paying occupations are in engineering. First-year salaries for graduates with bachelor’s degrees in 2013 averaged $63,000, according to the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers. Seven of the 10 college degree programs that result in the most lucrative salaries involve engineering.

Petroleum engineering featured the highest starting pay ($96,200) among all majors in 2013. Beginning computer engineers placed second at $70,300, with engineering majors ranking third at $66,900. Students of aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering and those with degrees in mechanical engineering tied for fourth at $63,900. Graduates in electrical, electronics, and communications engineering netted an average of $62,500. Engineering technology, at $60,900, placed eighth among all occupations.

Engineering jobs pay so well in part because of the significant financial investment in education, and years of hard work, required to become an engineer. Another reason for the high salaries is the shortage of many types of engineers.

Students who are interested in engineering may want to consider the rewards of majoring in one of the discipline’s numerous specialties. Many colleges and universities offer degree programs in various engineering fields.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, as well as U.S. News & World Report, have compiled lists of the top schools for engineering majors. Here is a look at the universities receiving the highest marks.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The famed MIT in Cambridge, Mass., ranked at the top of the lists published by the ABET and U.S. News in 2013. That year, 3,163 students were majoring in engineering at the school. The annual tuition for a full-time student was $41,770.

MIT, according to the ABET, has the best aerospace, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering program. The organization also placed MIT at the top for chemical; computer; electrical, electronic, and communications; and mechanical engineering.

Stanford University

Both lists featured California’s Stanford University ranking alongside MIT as the best engineering schools that offer doctorate degrees. Stanford’s engineering enrollment in 2013 was 3,548 students, with a tuition rate of $43,950.

No engineering school has better degree programs for environmental and environmental-health engineering students, according to the ABET. However, Stanford is a tough school to get into, as it accepts fewer than 10 percent of student applicants.

University of California-Berkeley

Tied for first in the ABET rankings and third on the U.S. News list was the University of California-Berkeley. It had an engineering enrollment of 1,837 students and a tuition rate of $11,220 ($26,322 for out-of-staters) in 2013.

UC-Berkeley, which has been called the nation’s best public university, is top-ranked by ABET in civil engineering. It is second in chemical engineering, as well as environmental and environmental-health engineering.

California Institute of Technology

The California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, is among the most famous engineering schools. It placed fourth on the U.S. News list. CIT had 587 engineering students and a tuition rate of $38,084 in 2013.

Carnegie Mellon University

Coming in fifth on the U.S. News list was Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Penn. It is renowned for programs in an array of science and engineering fields. The engineering enrollment was 2,857 students, with a tuition rate of $38,900, in 2013.

These are just some of the options for students looking for a good engineering school. The Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue University, the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor also have won praise.

According to the ABET, the best undergraduate engineering programs (where doctorates are not available) are at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.; Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif.; and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

The Online College Database reported that Northwestern University has the most degree programs in engineering. Next on that list are the Missouri University of Science and Technology, North Carolina State University at Raleigh, the Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Southern California.

Money is not the only factor in choosing a major and deciding upon a career. Students are advised to focus on occupations that they enjoy doing. Those who like engineering can pursue their passion and make a lot of money. They may want to consider applying to some of the schools on these lists.

4 Most Popular College Majors

College students consider a number of factors when choosing their majors. They assess their interests and skills, and match them to potential careers. Degree programs vary not only in the subject matter of the course work, but also in cost and the number of years required to graduate.

If the potential for earnings was the only consideration, everyone would major in engineering. There would probably be more medical students if the process did not require so much money and time. Equalizing all salaries would quickly solve the teacher shortage.

At last report, 42 percent of students chose one of 10 majors, according to the Business Insider. These degree programs concern business, health care, education, and a few other fields. Here is a look at the most popular college majors, and the top-ranked schools offering them.

1. Business

Eight percent of college students in the United States were majoring in business management and administration, when the Business Insider conducted its most recent survey. Degree programs in general business and accounting each attracted about 5 percent of students, placing them second and third on the list. Another business program, marketing and marketing research, ranked seventh with 3 percent of students.

Business majors take classes in subjects like accounting, marketing, finance, economics, statistics, budgeting and business planning, and employee management. The careers they seek require good math skills, as well as strong interpersonal communication.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, the best place in the United States to get a business degree is the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Others in the top five, in order, are the Harvard Business School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

2. Nursing

The fourth most-popular degree program is nursing, with about 4 percent of all students. Nursing requires a wide range of skills, from the technical to the personal. Nurses must deal with highly stressful, traumatic situations. They are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat injuries and illnesses, while working under the supervision of doctors.

In their freshman year in college, majors in this field take classes in the sciences and liberal arts. As sophomores, they begin clinical rotations to gain training and practical experience. Later, nurses may specialize in oncology, neurology, pediatrics, or obstetrics.

According to rankings compiled by U.S. News and World Report, three schools are tied for the distinction of having the best nursing program. They are St. Johns University in Baltimore, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the University of Washington in Seattle. Next on the list are the University of California at San Francisco and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

3. Psychology

Psychology degree programs also attract about 4 percent of students. Classes cover complex subjects related to the workings of the human brain. Students learn about intelligence, perceptions, emotions, personalities, and learning abilities. They diagnose and treat mental disorders, and help patients cope with emotional challenges.

Getting a degree in psychology is just the beginning of the educational requirements to work in this field. A graduate degree from a medical school, as well as training and certification, also are required.

The Social Psychology Network reported that Stanford University has the best undergraduate program, based on a Princeton University report. Others in the top five are Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

4. Education

Elementary education majors make up about 4 percent of students, while about 3 percent pursue degrees in general education. While not among the higher-paying professions, teaching provides opportunities for other rewards. Inspiring children to learn can be highly gratifying.

Students majoring in education take mostly general-education courses, with some class work focusing on the grade levels they expect to teach. While in school,  education majors frequently serve as student teachers to gain training and experience.

Michigan State University has the top degree programs in education, according to Campus Explorer. It ranked Pennsylvania State University second, Ohio University third, Vanderbilt University fourth, and the University of Georgia fifth.

These are the most popular college majors, and some of the institutions renowned for their degree programs in those fields. Pursuing these studies can lead to rewarding careers in a variety of disciplines.

Considering choices other students make can be instructive. However, it isrecommended that students focus on their individual needs and interests. Making money is not the only objective. Finding something that you can imagine yourself doing, in a full-time career, should be the main goal.

Tips for Choosing a Major

Attending a college or university entails a significant financial investment and several years of your life. You want to make the most of the experience. Selecting the major that is right for you can lead to a successful and satisfying career. There is a wide array of options, with some universities offering hundreds of degree programs. Here are some tips for choosing a major.

1. Set Priorities

You are in college to learn, earn a degree, and qualify for a good-paying job. In selecting a program, you need to balance your financial ambitions with your interests. If money was the only factor, everyone would be an engineering major. If the salaries of all occupations were equal, there would probably be more teachers and artists.

You need to make enough money to pay off your student loans and enjoy a financially secure life. Research the average salaries that graduates of certain degree programs earn, and the rates of job growth in various fields.

Understand that some professions require more than a four-year degree. To become a doctor, for instance, you have to attend an additional four years of medical school and complete a residency. The fact that this takes a lot of money, as well as time, is a serious consideration.

Remember that, after you graduate, you are likely to be working 40 hours a week or more. If the job is not something you enjoy doing, you are not going to be happy, no matter how much it pays.

2. Identify Interests

Do some self-analysis to identify the subject areas that most interest you. Assess your academic strengths and weaknesses. Consider the subjects that you liked, and those you hated, in high school.

Think about the activities you enjoy doing, and the topics that fascinate you. Identify jobs that would allow you to make a living while doing or studying those things. Imagine what you would like to do every day, if money was not a factor. As much as possible and practical, pursue your passions.

3. Research Programs

Compile a list of potential degree programs. Read the university’s course catalog to learn about the courses, subject matter, and requirements involved with each of the majors you are considering. Take a look at the textbooks and the sorts of assignments you would be expected to complete.

Take advantage of resources like professors, advisors, and fellow students. Ask them about courses and programs. High school and college counselors also are excellent sources of information and advice.

Speak with professionals who have careers in fields you are considering. Find out about the joys and drawbacks of their jobs. Picture yourself doing what they do, and try to determine whether it looks like something that would make you happy as well as financially secure.

4. Take Your Time

Relax and realize that you do not have to make a decision right away. College freshmen face enough of a challenge in adjusting to their new lives, dealing with academic and social pressures. You don’t have to decide upon a major until your sophomore or junior year.

Until then, start completing general-education course requirements. In addition, take math and science classes, because many majors require them. Select electives that you find interesting. If a course intrigues you, there’s a good chance it will be relevant to the major that you eventually choose (or to a job that you get someday).

5. Change Your Mind

Selecting a degree program does not set in stone what you are going to be doing the rest of your life. Few students end up graduating in the field they initially chose. Nearly everyone changes majors at least once.

You may find that the work is too difficult, or that the subject matter does not spark your interest to the extent that you expected. It’s possible that you will discover another subject area that seems more promising. This is called learning and growing, so do not resist it. Don’t feel trapped in your major; you can always change your mind.

Your options do not end upon graduation. People frequently change careers. at some point in their lives, because their passions change or the demand for their services decreases. This is why it is important to take some college classes that you find interesting, even if they don’t apply to your major. They may teach you information you can use later in life.

Choosing a major that leads to a career is one of the most significant actions you will ever take. Though the advice of parents and others can be helpful, it is a personal decision. You need to take a hard look at your interests, abilities, and financial goals. Then you can pick the degree program that is right for you.