How to Find the Right College

It’s important to think through lots of options when preparing your list of colleges.  You need to decide what you might want to study (take an interest inventory, or check out our top job lists – looking at these lists might help you decide what is the best major to consider!).  You need to determine which colleges give you the financial aid. You need to decide if a community college is the best place to start (you can save LOTS of money by starting there).  There are lots of questions you need to ask yourself. This page will help you think about those questions and come up with some answers.

The easiest way to find the right school for you!

This is a GREAT resource!  Check out the college scoreboard – put together by the Department of Education.  Federal officials say the College Scorecard is intended to be a resource for choosing colleges, helping students to broaden their college search and compare their top-choice schools. “By using the College Scorecard to compare costs and outcomes with their future degrees, students are better equipped to make these critical life decisions,” according to the site. The website also provides each school’s annual average cost and its graduation rates. The site allows you to sort the colleges to determine who leads and trails in each of these categories. If you click on a school, you’ll also get additional information on the school’s population and SAT and ACT scores.

Interest Inventories

It can be very hard to know “what do I want to do when I grow up” when you are still in high school.  An interest inventory can help you identify careers that meet your interests. Interest assessments usually ask you a series of questions about what you like and don’t like to do. Then they match your likes and dislikes to careers.  When you choose a career that matches your overall interests, you’re more likely to enjoy your job. You’re also more likely to be successful.  There are many different interest inventories (or interest assessments) out there – these are just a few to consider.  It’s worth looking at more than one of them – to see if you get the same general ideas for future career paths.

  1. This is an online form – https://www.careeronestop.org/toolkit/careers/interest-assessment.aspx  – it not only gives more specific details of jobs and careers that might work, but it also gives an idea of how easy/hard it is to find jobs in those fields (“outlook”), what the jobs tend to pay (clearly this is an average), and what education level is needed.  And if you click on a specific job topic then there is lots more info available about that job topic.
  2.  https://careertech.org/student-interest-survey – you have to print this one out but it can give some general ideas on what career paths might be of interest.
  3. http://careerwise.minnstate.edu/careers/clusterAssessment – another online form; this one gets you to some career clusters that are based on your areas of interest; if you click on a career cluster then you will get much more info about jobs within that cluster.
  4. My Next Move, interest profiler
  5. 16Personalities, free personality test

Finding the Right College – Some Helpful Links

  • Best colleges in PA for your money – this is ranking from Money Magazine July 2017 – listing the top 65 PA schools that give you the best value.
  • Would you consider an online college? This website gives lots of good info on how to think about online college.
  • This is another good website to give details on Online Colleges. It also has a lot of very basic information for the general college search.
  • Comparing Collegesthis website compares colleges and gives lots of quick facts about colleges – including graduation rates, etc.  It is VERY helpful.
  • This website compares the costs of local colleges for the 2013/2014 year. (Tuition/room/board)
  • College vs. Vocational School – a great way to look at college vs technical school options
  • Trade Schools  a list of tech schools in PA
  • Colleges and Universities – a list of colleges and universities in PA
  • New York Times – an article from 2011 on saving money by attending a community college
  • College Navigator – how to choose the right college and right major
  • Quest Bridge – links bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges.
  • The Center for Student Opportunity – (CSO) is a national nonprofit based in Bethesda, Md. that works to empower first-generation college students on the path to and through college.
  • National Association for College Admission Counseling – (NACAC) offers good help to families and students to help ith the transition from high school to college.

Pennsylvania Had a Strong Showing in Forbes’ 2017 College Rankings, Which Put an Emphasis on Return on Investment.

This year’s rankings, as Forbes explains, were created to better align with what the magazine values most, “superior return on investment; high impact, leadership and success; and a first-rate student-consumer experience.” Forbes describes the rankings as “fiscally minded” and says they does not take into account things like campus atmosphere, Greek life, sports etc. The methodology favors variables like “alumni salary, graduation rate and student satisfaction.”  Post-graduate success accounted for 35 percent of the ranking; how effectively students at each school avoid or pay back student loan debt accounts for 20 percent of the rankings, as does the student experience. Graduation rate and academic success both account for 12.5 percent.  (The number in the parenthesis is the school’s national ranking.)

  1. University of Pennsylvania (7)
  2. Swarthmore College (19)
  3. Haverford College (25)
  4. Carnegie Mellon University (45)
  5. Bucknell University (55)
  6. Lafayette College (56)
  7. Lehigh University (67)
  8. Villanova University (67)
  9. Franklin and Marshall College (92)
  10. Bryn Mawr College (95)
  11. Dickinson College (118)
  12. Gettysburg College (138)
  13. Pennsylvania State University (142)
  14. University of Pittsburgh (154)
  15. Muhlenberg College (164)
  16. Saint Joseph’s University (189)
  17. Grove City College (224)
  18. Ursinus College (252)
  19. University of Scranton (257)
  20. Drexel University (267)
  21. Duquesne University (273)
  22. Juniata College (277)
  23. Messiah College (302)
  24. Allegheny College (304)
  25. Susquehanna University (306)
  26. Lebanon Valley College (352)
  27. Temple University (360)
  28. La Salle University (376)
  29. Washington & Jefferson College (393)
  30. Elizabethtown College (411)
  31. Westminster College (423)
  32. Saint Vincent College (424)
  33. West Chester University of Pennsylvania (431)
  34. Moravian College (459)
  35. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (489)
  36. Lycoming College (532)
  37. Millersville University (542)
  38. King’s College (580)
  39. Immaculata University (582)
  40. Indiana University of Pennsylvania (622)
  41. Albright College (643)

Best schools in PA for salaries for graduates

Below is the list of the Pennsylvania schools and their average earning potential for graduates.  The numbers are based on the average earnings of students 10 years after they enrolled. Clearly a lot of these numbers are based on the majors and degrees of the graduates, but it gives an overall picture.  Published in August 2017.

  1. University of the Sciences, Philadelphia $95,800
  2. Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia $86,300
  3. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Lehigh University, Bethlehem $76,700
  4. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh $76,200
  5. Villanova University, Villanova $73,900
  6. Bucknell University, Lewisburg $69,100
  7. Lafayette College, Easton $68,800
  8. Drexel University, Philadelphia $62,600
  9. Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia $58,400
  10. Haverford College, Haverford $56,600
  11. Muhlenberg College, Allentown $56,300
  12. University of Scranton, Scranton $55,200
  13. Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr $53,600
  14. Dickinson College, Carlisle $53,300
  15. Widener University-Main Campus, Chester $52,900
  16. Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster $52,700
  17. Gettysburg College, Gettysburg $52,600
  18. Ursinus College, Collegeville $52,100
  19. Gwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley $51,600
  20. La Salle University, Philadelphia $50,900
  21. Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove $50,000
  22. Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre $49,900
  23. Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Lancaster $49,300
  24. Strayer University-Pennsylvania, Trevose $49,200
  25. University of Pittsburgh (Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Pittsburgh campuses) $48,800
  26. Moravian College, Bethlehem $48,600
  27. Holy Family University, Philadelphia; Swarthmore College, Swarthmore $48,500
  28. Allegheny College, Meadville $48,400
  29. Philadelphia University, Philadelphia $48,300
  30. Misericordia University, Dallas $48,100
  31. Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown $48,000
  32. Washington & Jefferson College, Washington $47,900
  33. Rosemont College, Rosemont, King’s College, Wilkes-Barre $47,800
  34. Pennsylvania State University (all campuses); DeSales University $47,700
  35. Immaculata University, Immaculata $47,600
  36. York College Pennsylvania, York $47,500
  37. Temple University, Philadelphia $47,200
  38. Peirce College, Philadelphia $46,800
  39. Saint Francis University, Loretto $46,400
  40. Cedar Crest College, Allentown $46,300
  41. West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester $46,100
  42. Lebanon Valley College, Annville $46,000
  43. Gannon University, Erie $45,900
  44. Albright College, Reading $45,800
  45. Saint Vincent College, Latrobe $45,300
  46. Waynesburg University, Waynesburg $45,100
  47. Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Shippensburg $44,600
  48. Juniata College, Huntingdon $44,500
  49. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg $43,900
  50. Robert Morris University, Moon Township $43,700
  51. Lycoming College, Williamsport $43,500
  52. Westminster College, New Wilmington $43,500
  53. East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg $43,000
  54. Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Millersville; Arcadia University, Glenside $42,900
  55. Alvernia University, Reading $41,900
  56. Messiah College, Mechanicsburg $41,900
  57. Eastern University, Saint Davids $41,300
  58. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown $41,200
  59. Cabrini University, Radnor $40,900
  60. La Roche College, Pittsburgh $40,700
  61. Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport $40,100
  62. Delaware Valley University, Doylestown; Neumann University, Aston; Mercyhurst University, Erie $39,500
  63. Carlow University, Pittsburgh $39,400
  64. Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia $39,300
  65. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock; Geneva College, Beaver Falls $38,900
  66. Lock Haven University, Lock Haven $38,400
  67. California University of Pennsylvania, California $38,100
  68. Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Mansfield $37,800
  69. Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus, Indiana $37,400
  70. Mount Aloysius College, Cresson $37,100
  71. Thiel College, Greenville $37,000
  72. Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion $36,800
  73. Point Park University, Pittsburgh $36,600
  74. Marywood University, Scranton $36,400
  75. Seton Hill University, Greensburg $35,900
  76. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro $34,400
  77. Central Penn College, Summerdale $34,400
  78. Lincoln University, Lincoln University $33,500
  79. Chatham University, Pittsburgh $33,400
  80. Wilson College, Chambersburg $32,800
  81. Cairn University-Langhorne, Langhorne $32,600
  82. Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia $32,400
  83. The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Philadelphia $32,100
  84. The Art Institutes of York-PA, York $31,000
  85. Keystone College, La Plume $30,600
  86. Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster $30,000
  87. The University of the Arts, Philadelphia $29,800
  88. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Cheyney $29,500
  89. Summit University of Pennsylvania, Clarks Summit $29,000
  90. University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville $28,800
  91. Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster $26,800
  92. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia $24,700

Many Tier 2 & 3 Schools Offer Tremendous Value

If you are a top academic junior or senior in high school, it might seem that selecting an elite (and expensive) college or university would help to leverage your personal and professional success. If this were the case, then choosing an Ivy League or Top-25 school would virtually guarantee you an edge over other graduates in the workforce.

However, there is no evidence that any school provides the right mix of factors to ensure personal and professional success. The only statistic available that shows the value of a college degree comes from a census study done by the federal government in the year 2012, which indicates that the average college graduate can expect to earn about $1,000,000 more than a high school graduate over a working lifetime.

In reality, though, an Ivy League degree does not guarantee anything except the short-term branding of one’s perceived quality or value as a person or an employee. There is no research that suggests an Ivy League college degree provides more earning potential over a lifetime, more happiness, more insight, more knowledge, or more self-worth per-dollar-cost than any other school in the country. A study by Forbes magazine revealed that among the CEOs of leading Fortune 300 corporations, 87% did not attend a Top 25 school for their undergraduate studies.

The fact remains that most college students do not attend elite colleges, regardless of the “nameplate” or “brand” of school they choose to attend. Many Tier 2 schools offer tremendous value, depending upon the needs, wants, and values that an individual student is looking for in his or her college search. Furthermore, you’ll find many corporate, foundation, and civic leaders who graduated from Tier 3 public and private schools too.

What about money?

Many Tier 2 and Tier 3 colleges offer significant grants, scholarships, and tuition discounts to attract quality students, regardless of the family’s income or financial need. Whereas Ivy League schools only offer financial aid to families with financial need.

Students enter college from various socioeconomic backgrounds. Then they graduate into a workforce with a specific set of skills, knowledge, and attitude shaped by very diverse experiences. No two graduates are alike, and no two schools are alike. Just remember, the right college choice can make a big difference in the student’s future; however, the wrong choice could cost a bundle.

If you are a top high school junior or senior this coming school year and you want to pick the right college (at the right price) for your future; then be sure you do a thorough analysis of the many Tier 2 and Tier 3 colleges available. Many offer significant grants, scholarships and tuition discounts that can make a BIG difference to your pocketbook!

From NICCP posting, Oct 2016

 

These Colleges Gave The Best Financial Aid Packages for 2016-2017

Below is a list of the top colleges for financial aid. The sticker price on many of these colleges was over $60,000 for the 2016-2017 school year, but if you have “financial need” (Total Cost – EFC>$0), these top colleges will meet 90% to 100% of that need.

Financial Need Met (2016-2017):

100%: Amherst College (MA)
100%: Arlington Baptist College (TX)
100%: Austin College (Sherman, TX)
100%: Barnard College (NY)
100%: Bates College (ME)
100%: Blessing–Rieman College of Nursing (IL)
100%: Boston College (MA)
100%: Bowdoin College (ME)
100%: Brown University (RI)
100%: Bryn Mawr College (PA)
100%: California Institute of Technology (CA)
100%: Carleton College (MN)
100%: Claremont McKenna College (CA)
100%: Colby College (ME)
100%: Colgate University (NY)
100%: College of the Holy Cross (MA)
100%: Colorado College
100%: Columbia University (NY)
100%: Connecticut College (CT)
100%: Cornell University (NY)
100%: Dartmouth College (NH)
100%: Davidson College (NC)
100%: Duke University (NC)
100%: Franklin and Marshall College (PA)
100%: Georgetown University (DC)
100%: Grinnell College (IA)
100%: Hamilton College (NY)
100%: Harvard University (MA)
100%: Harvey Mudd College (CA)
100%: Haverford College (PA)
100%: Johns Hopkins University (MD)
100%: Macalester College (MN)
100%: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MA)
100%: Middlebury College (VT)
100%: Mount Holyoke College (MA)
100%: Northwestern University (IL)
100%: Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)
100%: Occidental College (CA)
100%: Pitzer College (CA)
100%: Pomona College (CA)
100%: Princeton University (NJ)
100%: Reed College (OR)
100%: Rice University (TX)
100%: Scripps College (CA)
100%: Smith College (MA)
100%: St. Olaf College (MN)
100%: Stanford University (CA)
100%: Swarthmore College (PA)
100%: Thomas Aquinas College (CA)
100%: Trinity College (CT)
100%: Tufts University (MA)
100%: Union College (NY)
100%: University of Chicago (IL)
100%: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC)
100%: University of Pennsylvania (PA)
100%: University of Richmond (VA)
100%: University of Virginia (VA)
100%: Vanderbilt University (TN)
100%: Vassar College (NY)
100%: Walla Walla University (WA)
100%: Washington University in St. Louis (MO)
100%: Wellesley College (MA)
100%: Wesleyan University (CT)
100%: Williams College (MA)
100%: Yale University (CT)
100%: Washington and Lee University (VA)
100%: Wake Forest University (NC)
99%: University of Notre Dame (IN)
99%: Mount Marty College (SD)
99%: Lafayette College (PA)
99%: Emory University (GA)
99%: Carroll University (WI)
98%: Wabash College (IN)
98%: Kenyon College (OH)
98%: Huston–Tillotson University (TX)
98%: Franklin & Marshall College (PA)
98%: Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (MA)
98%: Gettysburg College (PA)
98%: Colorado College (CO)
97%: Whitman College (WA)
97%: University of Rochester (NY)
97%: Union College (NY)
97%: The University of the South (TN)
97%: Soka University
97%: SUNY – Upstate Medical University (NY)
97%: Rockhurst University (MO)
97%: Loyola University Maryland (MD)
97%: Lincoln University (CA)
97%: Hampshire College (MA)
97%: Claflin University (SC)
96%: Wheaton College (MA)
96%: Lehigh University (PA)
96%: Earlham College (IN)
96%: Dickinson College (PA)
96%: Denison University (OH)
96%: College of the Atlantic (ME)
95%: Purdue University (IN)
95%: La Roche College (PA)
95%: CUNY – Queens College (NY)
95%: Clark University (MA)
95%: Bucknell University (PA)
94%: University of Virginia (VA)
94%: Muhlenberg College (PA)
94%: McPherson College (KS)
94%: Indiana University East (IN)
94%: Illinois Wesleyan University (IL)
94%: Bethel College (KS)
94%: Babson College (MA)
93%: Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology (NY)
93%: University of Massachusetts Boston (MA)
93%: The Cooper Union (NY)
93%: Skidmore College (NY)
93%: Indiana University Southeast (IN)
93%: Dean College (MA)
93%: Bentley University (MA)
93%: Beloit College (WI)
92%: Washington State University (WA)
92%: The College of Wooster (OH)
92%: Syracuse University (NY)
92%: Southwestern Oklahoma State University (OK)
92%: Rhodes College (TN)
92%: University of Massachusetts (MA)
92%: Indiana University – South Bend (IN)
92%: Indiana University – Kokomo (IN)
92%: Berea College (KY)
92%: Anna Maria College (MA)
91%: Virginia Military Institute (VA)
91%: Stonehill College (MA)
91%: Principia College (IL)
91%: Oral Roberts University (OK)
91%: Nova Southeastern University (FL)
90%: University of Michigan (MI)
90%: The George Washington University (DC)
90%: SUNY – College of Environmental Science (NY)
90%: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM)
90%: Millikin University (IL)
90%: Lindenwood University (MO)
90%: Curtis Institute of Music (PA)
90%: Ashland University (OH)

Good PA Colleges to Consider

These colleges tend to have more available opening that many others. Many have lower tuition and/or good scholarship assistance. Remember, if you go to a PA college you’ll likely be eligible for PHEAA grants (those are usually only good for PA colleges). 

Allegheny College
Arcadia University
Cabrini College
Cedar Crest College
Central Penn College
East Stroudsburg University of PA
Elizabethtown College
Immaculata University
Indiana University of PA
King’s College
Kutztown University
Lackawanna College
La Salle University

Lebanon Valley College
Mansfield University
Millersville University
Point Park University
Shippensburg University
St. John’s University
Temple University
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
Ursinus College
West Chester University
Widener University
Wilkes University
Wilson College

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