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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- My Next Move, interest profiler
- 16Personalities, free personality test
- 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.
- If you need some help just sorting through the long list of possible colleges – check out this website: www.bestcolleges.com. It has some great links related to finding a college, figuring out a major, looking for scholarships, etc.
- 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 Colleges, this website compares colleges and gives lots of quick facts about colleges – including graduation rates, etc. It is VERY helpful.
- 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.
OTHER ARTICLES OF INTEREST ON CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLLEGE:
Click on headlines below.
2017 College Rankings
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.)
- University of Pennsylvania (7)
- S (19)
- Haverford College (25)
- Bucknell University (55)
- Villanova University (67)
- Franklin and Marshall College (92)
- Bryn Mawr College (95)
- Dickinson College (118)
- Gettysburg College (138)
- Pennsylvania State University (142)
- University of Pittsburgh (154)
- Muhlenberg College (164)
- Saint Joseph’s University (189)
- Grove City College (224)
- Ursinus College (252)
- University of Scranton (257)
- Drexel University (267)
- Juniata College (277)
- Messiah College (302)
- Allegheny College (304)
- Susquehanna University (306)
- Lebanon Valley College (352)
- Temple University (360)
- La Salle University (376)
- Washington & Jefferson College (393)
- Elizabethtown College (411)
- Westminster College (423)
- Saint Vincent College (424)
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania (431)
- Moravian College (459)
- Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (489)
- Lycoming College (532)
- Millersville University (542)
- King’s College (580)
- Immaculata University (582)
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania (622)
- Albright College (643)
Best schools in PA for salaries for graduates
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.
- University of the Sciences, Philadelphia $95,800
- Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia $86,300
- University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Lehigh University, Bethlehem $76,700
- Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh $76,200
- Villanova University, Villanova $73,900
- Bucknell University, Lewisburg $69,100
- Lafayette College, Easton $68,800
- Drexel University, Philadelphia $62,600
- Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia $58,400
- Haverford College, Haverford $56,600
- Muhlenberg College, Allentown $56,300
- University of Scranton, Scranton $55,200
- Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr $53,600
- Dickinson College, Carlisle $53,300
- Widener University-Main Campus, Chester $52,900
- Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster $52,700
- Gettysburg College, Gettysburg $52,600
- Ursinus College, Collegeville $52,100
- Gwynedd Mercy University, Gwynedd Valley $51,600
- La Salle University, Philadelphia $50,900
- Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove $50,000
- Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre $49,900
- Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, Lancaster $49,300
- Strayer University-Pennsylvania, Trevose $49,200
- University of Pittsburgh (Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Pittsburgh campuses) $48,800
- Moravian College, Bethlehem $48,600
- Holy Family University, Philadelphia; Swarthmore College, Swarthmore $48,500
- Allegheny College, Meadville $48,400
- Philadelphia University, Philadelphia $48,300
- Misericordia University, Dallas $48,100
- Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown $48,000
- Washington & Jefferson College, Washington $47,900
- Rosemont College, Rosemont, King’s College, Wilkes-Barre $47,800
- Pennsylvania State University (all campuses); DeSales University $47,700
- Immaculata University, Immaculata $47,600
- York College Pennsylvania, York $47,500
- Temple University, Philadelphia $47,200
- Peirce College, Philadelphia $46,800
- Saint Francis University, Loretto $46,400
- Cedar Crest College, Allentown $46,300
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester $46,100
- Lebanon Valley College, Annville $46,000
- Gannon University, Erie $45,900
- Albright College, Reading $45,800
- Saint Vincent College, Latrobe $45,300
- Waynesburg University, Waynesburg $45,100
- Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Shippensburg $44,600
- Juniata College, Huntingdon $44,500
- Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg $43,900
- Robert Morris University, Moon Township $43,700
- Lycoming College, Williamsport $43,500
- Westminster College, New Wilmington $43,500
- East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg $43,000
- Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Millersville; Arcadia University, Glenside $42,900
- Alvernia University, Reading $41,900
- Messiah College, Mechanicsburg $41,900
- Eastern University, Saint Davids $41,300
- Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Kutztown $41,200
- Cabrini University, Radnor $40,900
- La Roche College, Pittsburgh $40,700
- Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport $40,100
- Delaware Valley University, Doylestown; Neumann University, Aston; Mercyhurst University, Erie $39,500
- Carlow University, Pittsburgh $39,400
- Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia $39,300
- Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock; Geneva College, Beaver Falls $38,900
- Lock Haven University, Lock Haven $38,400
- California University of Pennsylvania, California $38,100
- Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Mansfield $37,800
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Main Campus, Indiana $37,400
- Mount Aloysius College, Cresson $37,100
- Thiel College, Greenville $37,000
- Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion $36,800
- Point Park University, Pittsburgh $36,600
- Marywood University, Scranton $36,400
- Seton Hill University, Greensburg $35,900
- Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro $34,400
- Central Penn College, Summerdale $34,400
- Lincoln University, Lincoln University $33,500
- Chatham University, Pittsburgh $33,400
- Wilson College, Chambersburg $32,800
- Cairn University-Langhorne, Langhorne $32,600
- Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia $32,400
- The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Philadelphia $32,100
- The Art Institutes of York-PA, York $31,000
- Keystone College, La Plume $30,600
- Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster $30,000
- The University of the Arts, Philadelphia $29,800
- Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Cheyney $29,500
- Summit University of Pennsylvania, Clarks Summit $29,000
- University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville $28,800
- Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster $26,800
- Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia $24,700
The Value of Tier 2 and 3 Schools
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
Cedar Crest College
Central Penn College
East Stroudsburg University of PA
Indiana University of PA
La Salle University
Lebanon Valley College
Point Park University
St. John’s University
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
West Chester University
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