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Goldilocks and the search for college

November 11, 2016

Too small. Too big. Just right. Just like in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the search for college is all about finding the right fit. However, these day’s it is not just size that determines a match, but factors like location, programs and money also play a role. In 2015, approximately 20.2 million students started their first year of college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Skyla Jewell-Hammie,  a senior at Troy High School in Troy, MI, will be a part of the 20.2 million students next year. She said she wants to make sure the school she attends has a good English and journalism program since those are the fields she is in most interested in. However, for her, what matters most is the feel of the campus.

“[I ask myself] do I want to spend four years here?” Jewell-Hammie said. “[I’m looking for] comfort and excitement [on campus]. Like when you just step on a campus and you’re just like ‘It’s too big,’ or you know you’ll get lost. But if it’s right for you, you know.”

While feeling at home at college is high priority on most students lists, Andrea Miller, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Administration at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, thinks breadth of majors is the most important.  According to NBC, 50 percent of students enter college undecided, so being able to explore your interests is important.

“You want to go to a place where you feel comfortable, but also has the different degrees that you may be interested in,” Andrea Miller, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Administration at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, said.

We realize a lot of students don’t come in knowing exactly what they want to do, which is why LSU [is good]. We have over 230 majors, so people can come here and figure out what they want to do, if you don’t know right away. You’re 18 years old, you’re not expected to know what you want to do [for the rest of their lives].”

For a lot of students, money is another factor. With the cost-of-attendance skyrocketing, most students rely on financial aid. According to the College Board, in 2014-15, about two-thirds of full-time students paid for college with the help of financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Jewell-Hammie said most of her friends are staying in-state due to finances or wanting to stay close to home, and one of her friends has to pay for college completely on their own.

University of Mississippi's school newspaper that is released five days a week.

Kennady Wade
University of Mississippi’s school newspaper that is released five days a week.

“I’ve been worrying about [money] a little, but I have Native-Canadian status which helps me get tuition free my second year,” Jewell-Hammie said.

For a student who needs money, but also wants versatility in their major, Bobby Steele, an Adjunct Professor in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, recommends integrated marketing and communications.

“Integrated marketing and communications is a well-rounded degree,” Steele said. “It’s a combination of relations, sales, marketing, communications, all wrapped up into one. Anybody who goes into this particular field as their undergrad also has to have a minor in business administration and so you still have to do the accounting and all the other cores like that. That’s not necessarily as exciting as the actual field that you’re going into, but it makes you more well-rounded.”

The degree has a journalistic background, and anyone involved in the school’s newspaper, which reports five days a week, gets paid for doing so. If a student’s largest factor is being able to explore their major, this program is extremely versatile, according to Steele. To him, the number one factor anyone should consider is whether you can start a career you enjoy after.

“At the end of the day, college has always been very important,” Steele said. “But this really is about finding the right career, you know? Because once college is over, the realism is you have to get a job.”

TKC social media took to Twitter to ask followers their highest priority when searching for colleges:

Voices of Kirkwood: Indianapolis edition

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