Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, high school graduation looked very different in 2020 compared to previous years. Gone were tightly-packed groups of beaming grads in caps and gowns, the hugs and handshakes with friends and mentors, the throngs of adoring families. In their places: choreographed, socially-distanced ceremonies, if an in-person ceremony was held at all.
While some grads have already decided on the next steps of their educational journey, others may still be considering where to go next. The options might seem overwhelming, but determining what kind of school is right for you is a good first step.
Here are some important factors to consider:
Location. You may be interested in a school in another part of the state or country, or you may be committed to staying where you are. Are you ready for the cost of moving, and the cost of living in your new home? Is public transit available, or will you need a car? Will you have access to a support network?
Full-time or part-time study. Some schools don’t support part-time study, and it can be tricky to balance family and work obligations and a full load of classes. Consider an option that offers the flexibility of part-time education.
Public or private college. Some postsecondary schools, such as community colleges, California State Universities, and the University of California, are subsidized by the state. Other schools are privately owned, either by an individual or a corporation. The primary differences between the two are:
- Private schools will generally have a few focused programs, while public schools often offer a wide variety of programs.
- Private schools will cost more money but may offer smaller, more personalized classes than public schools.
- Private schools generally offer shorter, more condensed terms, often allowing you to complete your program in a shorter period of time, while public schools have traditional semesters or quarters.
Distance learning or traditional classroom instruction. Schools are still determining what their learning models will look like as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and beyond. While on-campus tours are largely suspended for the time being, some schools may offer a virtual tour of the campus so you can get an idea of what campus life is like. Talk to schools about how they will proceed, and think about your preferred learning style: can you succeed by self-motivating at home, or do you prefer a more structured, classroom-style environment?
The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education’s Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR) provides prospective students with information on making informed decisions when choosing a college, including information on their rights when attending a private college. In addition to helping you find the perfect school for you, OSAR can help you discover your educational style, provide guidance on researching and enrolling in a college, and help you figure out how to pay for college. To find out how OSAR can help you determine the next step in your educational journey, visit https://osar.bppe.ca.gov/researching_colleges.shtml or contact OSAR directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.