Report: What Colleges Should Know About Teletherapy and How to Pick the Best Telehealth Vendor for Your Students
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Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to major in, it’s important to make sure a college offers the classes and programs you might be thinking about. It’s also useful to find out how a college will support you academically.
Here are key college prep questions to consider as you research.
You don’t have to know what you want to major in before going to college (or even in the first year, usually), but having a general idea—are you interested in the sciences? Engineering? Arts? History? English?—can help you narrow down college choices.
Large universities offer many majors, some very specialized, while small colleges offer fewer, more generalized majors. Small colleges don’t typically offer engineering, for example. Explore different-sized schools and look for schools with academic programs you’re interested in.
Also, find out what it takes to get admitted to a particular program. For instance, a major like engineering or nursing can be competitive to get into, so look at what the school requires. That could be a certain GPA, a separate application, or direct admission to the program when you apply to the college. What would you do if you didn’t get accepted into a particular program? Would another major offered at the school work for you?
If you don’t know your area of interest yet, find out if you can take the school’s common core classes before declaring a major. Many colleges allow students to start without declaring.
Some schools give you a short period of time, and others allow a year or two of exploration. That timing could be important, depending on how clear your interests and goals are.
Schools differ in their academic requirements, so explore each school you’re considering. Here are some questions to ask and think about:
For a starting point, explore coursework requirements on the college website. Look up majors and required courses. To dig deeper, reach out to a particular department with specific questions, or contact the admissions office to find out if it can connect you to a student in that major. Many colleges have student ambassadors ready to answer questions for prospective students.
Many colleges make academic advising mandatory and assign advisers to students, but some don’t. They expect students to reach out to advisers on their own. Questions to ask:
Think about how challenging your high school courses have been (or were) and what you’d like out of your college courses. Do you want them to be more or less challenging than high school? It’s important to find a balance here. A college that is too tough can be just as bad as one that is not challenging enough. Stretching yourself academically can be a great thing, but getting in over your head and struggling too much isn’t good for you academically or emotionally.
It’s not always easy to figure this out, but one way to get a sense of this is to reach out to professors and current students (especially if you can find a student who went to your high school). They have firsthand knowledge of the ease or difficulty of classes, and, as an added bonus, it’s also a good way to see how helpful professors and others are at each school.
Whether or not you have a learning disability that requires accommodations, you will need (or definitely benefit from) academic support from time to time. In fact, students who are most successful in their work reach out for support before they’re in trouble.
Research what the student support services are, and also take a look at how accessible professors are to their students. Faculty support can be as important as the tutoring center, especially once you’re in your major. It’s important to find a school that has the resources you need to be successful.
A college or university’s overall academic culture—their philosophy around learning, response to current events, position on new ideas and challenging old ones—can have a big impact on your college experience. To get a better sense of a school’s academic climate, explore things like:
You can ask a high school teacher, guidance counselor, or mentor who knows you well to review these things with you as part of your decision-making process.
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7.
You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.