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isearch

Powerful Essays
Topics: College, University
Austin Ginman
English 3
Ms. Niemiec
May 8, 2012
I-Search

As a junior in high school the thought of what my future will look like, including what college I will attend and what I will study is both very exciting and overwhelming. This research is an important part of my planning for college. I am hopeful that the search will help me by understanding more about what different colleges have to offer, what the requirements are and ultimately help me decide what is the best fit for me. Researching community colleges and state universities will help me to answer what colleges I can and want to apply to, what I might major in and what to expect for tuition costs. I began this project by researching both community colleges and state universities. I felt like this was a good starting place as my GPA may be a restriction in choosing a college. After speaking with teachers and the guidance department I found out that starting at a community college and transferring to a state university could be good plan for me. I started my search comparing Holyoke Community College, Westfield State University and Framingham State University. Reading articles about how to find a college suggested “finding out about the essential facts about the character and atmosphere of a particular school from first hand sources”( How ). Another fact that I had not even considered about fit of school for me was considering how far away the school is and the expense of this travel to and from home ( Finding ). After learning this fact, I decided that I do want to be at a school that is within driving distance to home as family events, and the ability to come home and see friends is a priority. I found many advantages for living on campus. Dorming at school will help me to become more independent, make adult decisions, make lasting relationships, and learn how to get along with others “ which will be a valuable asset in future relationships in the workplace and at home( Dorming 2). I think my study habits will improve significantly by living on campus because their will be less distractions which in turn will leave me with time with my studies. Part of my research involved visiting a college campus. My research suggested, “ Plan ahead and visit the college campus. Try to schedule your visit when school is in session and if possible make it an overnight stay in student or campus housing” (How ). I chose to visit a campus where my cousin attends so that I could do just this. I got to walk around the college get a full tour and see a dorm room. When I visited Framingham State University it did help me to begin to think about what I would like in a college campus. This campus was too small for me to feel comfortable, there were many students in too small a space. With over 6,000 students in a traditional New England campus, the environment was simply to chaotic By visiting the university it helped( Overview ) me to know that the athletic and fitness areas of a college were very important to me. I also learned that I want to be at a college that has easy and affordable access to off campus places so that I can find a part-time job, purchase food, and have entertainment options. Framingham was very close to the Natic Mall, which is where all the students go during their free time. In interviewing two freshmen students, my cousin and her friend, I asked a series of questions about their experience at Framingham and college in general. They told me about the pros and cons of of living at the college. It was clear by listening to their stories that transportation and holding a steady job was not as easy as compared to living at home. My cousin spoke about the difficulties of living with a roommate you've never met before and the challenges of overcoming your differences. In her experience she was living in a tiny dorm room with student who was the complete opposite of her and what she believed in. My cousin explained how “partying and smoking was much less accepted, if anything it was looked down upon at college” ( Miller ). “Once you enter college people mature and don’t wanna be involved in the party life style” according to her friend ( Durban ). Both my cousin and her friend were satisfied with the school but were honest about the things that were not as good like the fact that scheduling classes was very disorganized and you had to make your own map because their advisers were not familiar with their majors. I explored college websites and decided to focus my search on Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University. I plan on visiting these colleges over the summer as my plan is either to go directly to a state college or attend a community college and then transfer to a four year college. I found a resource called, The Transfer Guidebook for Massachusetts Public Higher Education . I learned that you can transfer once you earn a degree or after one year at a community college and that many state universities have agreements known as transfer compacts that assure you will not lose any credits and will ensure your place in the program. ( Transfer 3 ). “Holyoke Community College had the highest transfer rate of any community college statewide” ( General ). In comparing the GPA requirements of Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University I found that HCC has a minimum requirement of a 2.5. If I chose to go directly to Westfield State the requirement is around 2.7 as it does differ by program; however, if I transferred in from Holyoke Community College the GPA requirement would be 2.5 ( HCC and Westfield). I believe attending HCC before hand will be there better option for me because I will have more time to be prepare myself and see what college is really like. Ill feel more comfortable and confident at by transferring to a University from a college opposed to my current high-school. Many sources that I read suggested that it is good to ask about activities and sports (Massac). I know that I want to play college soccer and I searched the websites and found that both schools were division three teams. The Holyoke Community College soccer team won six New England Championships and produced fifteen all-Americans( General ). Framingham State University has a nice complex however, their soccer team is not as strong. Although I am sure that I want to attend college I am currently undecided about about what I would like to major in. Research on career development suggests that it is important to consider that this is a long term decision (Strategy ) and that speaking to other college students, researching majors and knowing what types of careers or jobs the major can lead to is crucial. In addition to a job at the end of college it is important to me to be interested in the field of study as much of my time and energy will be dedicated towards it. Two majors that I am interested in are Psychology, and something sport related such as sports management and fitness. I searched the Holyoke Community College website and found exactly what I was looking for as they offer both majors. Then I checked to see if Westfield State University offered the same in a bachelors degree program and I found that they actually had two sports related degrees and psychology. I was happy to find that this could be a possible transfer option for me. During my visit at Framingham State University I learned from my cousin's friend that you don’t have to declare a major right away and even if you do you may not get the courses you need. She explained that although she is a declared Biology major she was not able to get into the labs she needed because they enrolled too many students and therefore, has to wait until her second year. Tuition costs are a consideration when making my decision. Although this isn’t necessarily holding me back from anywhere I may want to go. If I were to go to a private school I would have to combine my family's money with student loans. I will also share in the responsibility of paying for my college education by purchasing books and living expenses. It is important for me and my family to try and pay for college without student loans as I may need to take them for graduate school. Another consideration with tuition costs is whether or not I will board at school or commute from home. Once I am at a four year school, I would like to live on campus and my parents would like me to have that experience as well. Boarding at school “almost doubles the cost of college expenses” according to my research (Dorming ). The expense for one year at community college is $4,110 plus books and fees (General ). The cost of a state university is $8,000 plus books and fees for one year for students who commute. If I were to live on campus at the same school, Westfield State University it would be approximately 18,000 which includes an additional 6,000 to board and 4,000 for a dining plan( About). Making a college choice means I have to be mature and make decisions that best suit me which also means the possibility of taking my own path and being independent. This project helped to me understand that attending and applying to college requires hours of research and knowledge about where you wish to go. I found a quote in my research that really spoke to me, “ The question students need to ask is not which are the best colleges but rather, which are the best colleges for me” (Finding ). When comparing colleges on websites and a tour I learned that for me this fit must include a soccer program, the ability to leave campus, be within driving distance to home, and that I want to be with students who seem to have similar interests and ideas. I will continue to visit state college campuses over the summer as I am still in the early stages of choosing where I want to go. What I have learned so far has prepared me to know what to look for and what questions to ask when I visit other campuses. Although I found some beginning information about majors that might interest me I know that I am still undecided and need to find out more detailed information about what kinds of jobs I might get after graduation with these majors. I learned a lot about tuition costs and have decided that my first choice would be to live on campus but also be close to home so that if it were too expensive I would have a back up plan to commute. Overall, this research project was not only an interesting topic but was also so helpful to me and will continue to help me in my senior year to make a final decision about what college I will attend.

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