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US Universities and Colleges

People with a bachelor's degree earn over 60% more than those with a high school diploma! College is an investment for the future.
Søknadsmateriale til universiteter. Foto.
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A student who has graduated from high school may apply to continue his/her education at a college or a university. To begin with a student must take a standardized test in his/her senior year called the SAT's (Scholastic Aptitude Tests). Certain colleges may also require additional entrance tests. The results from these tests, together with high school grades - and don't forget the extra curricular/volunteer activities that we mentioned earlier - form the basis for college and university admittance.

School Fairs

Academic Graduate Studio Portrait. Photo.

Students begin looking at various colleges as early as their junior year. It is a long process and a big decision which requires time and thought by both student and parents. Guidance counselors provide the basic information for students. Then student/parents begin gathering more specific information about schools of interest. School fairs are held where representatives from local colleges present their programs. During summer months parents take road trips with their child to visit several colleges and campuses across the country.

Acceptance or Rejection

As you are not guaranteed acceptance into your chosen school, students send out applications to several other schools as back ups. Application forms are lengthy and tedious. Often, you are required to submit an essay, as well as letters of recommendation. A sigh of relief is released as the applications are dropped in the mailbox. Then it is a "wait and see" game. Acceptance or rejection letters will arrive in the early spring and you will either jump with joy or shed a few tears. Nevertheless, come fall your bags will be packed and you will be embarking on a new journey!

College vs University

What is the difference between a college and a university? Colleges, which are often smaller in size than universities, usually offer undergraduate courses leading to a bachelor’s degree. These programs may vary from two to four years. Universities, on the other hand, are much larger in size, offering both undergraduate and graduate courses. They will vary from a four year program and up.

Bachelor, Graduate and Doctorate Degrees

Scholastic Aptitude Test. Photo.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree (typically completion of a four year program) the student then graduates once again. The ceremony is very similar to high school graduation, but much larger in number. From here the choice is yours. Many students see this day as the end and a new beginning. They have finally completed their educational path and are now eager to launch forward into the working world. Finding the right job is a tedious process and their first job will certainly not be their last. Other students have higher educational ambitions and will continue their education as a graduate student. These students are working towards a master’s degree and perhaps even a doctorate.

3000 Choices

UCLA cheerleaders. Foto.

There is a wide range of colleges and universities to choose from, approximately 3,000 in all, and these vary greatly in size, standards and fees. In the state of Massachusetts, home to the famous Harvard University, you can choose between 122 colleges and universities! Seven out of ten of the world's best universities are found in the US, with Harvard University ranking as number one!

Comprehension task:

  1. What test is needed before you can apply to college?
  2. What qualifications do colleges seek for admission?
  3. Name some ways that students can find out more information about colleges.
  4. Name a few things that may be required along with the application form.
  5. What is the difference between a college and a university?

    What are the three main types of degrees one can obtain at a college/university?
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Dig deeper: University/College Tuition

For many American parents, affording a four year college tuition for their children means saving money from the day they are born. Fees keep escalating each year making it more and more difficult for the average American to reach this goal.

There are, however, numerous options available for both parents and students to help them fulfill their dreams of higher education. While parents loan money from banks, many students have part time jobs to help contribute. In addition there are many federal, state and local institutions which offer scholarship money and financial aid.

College Tuition

But what does it cost to attend a college or university? This is a difficult question to answer as prices vary from one school to another. Average total charges are $25,000 - $35,000 per year, including tuition, fees and room and board. Room and board refers to the housing of a student. Many students choose to live on campus in a dormitory for their first years.

How can you afford this? The numbers may sound frightening at first, but there are several ways to bring these costs down. States have their own colleges and universities which offer much lower costs to their own residents. As an in-state student you can save around $10,000. As many as 80% of college bound students choose this option. Yet, as tempting as this sounds, some students choose out of state schools for reasons as simple as wanting to"spread their wings" and experience a totally new environment. Junior colleges, which offer a two year associate's degree, are often less expensive too. And choosing a public institution versus a private one will also help to trim your budget.

Financial Aid, Educational Loans and Scholarships

Other ways to reduce costs are applying for financial aid, educational loans or scholarships. Financial aid is a program set up by the government to help lower income families while educational loans are borrowed from lending institutions. Scholarships are given as awards and are abundant. There are literally hundreds of thousands of them from sports scholarships to community service. The more scholarships you apply for the better your chances. Every penny helps! Another option is joining the Armed Services where college education is often free, paid for by the government.

Regardless of your choice of school, in-state, out-of-state, private or public, in the end it is all worth it. Whatever sacrifices you make for your college education they are short term in comparison to the thousands of doors that will have been opened.

Comprehension task:

  1. Why is it difficult for many families to send their sons and daughters to college?
  2. Which alternatives are there to the expensive out-of-state schools?
  3. What can students do to help finance their college education?

CC BY-SASkrevet av Christine Varadian Johnsen.
Sist faglig oppdatert 06.10.2018

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