College: Weighing Academic Rigor, Cost And Job Placement

As I think about life after high school and the decisions ahead, the most important thing to me is the rigor of the programs at the college I choose. I want to push myself hard in college, because I didn’t do that early in high school and I regret it. So now that I get another chance, I want to make myself proud and become the student and grad school applicant I want to be.

I am taking difficult classes this year and will be taking five AP tests at the end of the year, so I’m definitely pushing myself. With those classes come difficult tests, which I have learned require much more study time. I’m taking these both because I love the subjects, but also because I’m pretty much set up with my plan for college, perhaps even grad school.

I want to double major in Economics and English, then do my own research in my subject and form my own area of study. The career goal would be to go into advertising. Outside of that, I’d love to continue writing. It’s my true passion, but not a career I want to put all my focus on. My job would require a master’s degree, most definitely.

Money matters
Second is cost. No matter how much I would love to be able to buy into any college of my choice, that just isn’t an option. College is so expensive, with some tuition hitting around $60,000 a year, and I have three little brothers who have to go to high school and college soon. That’s a huge chunk of money to take from the rest of my family. I’m going to depend primarily on scholarships, merit-based or financial aid.

Fortunately, I have picked colleges from a wide variety of price ranges, though most of them do lean towards the more expensive side.
Since I definitely plan to go to grad school, I would choose a less expensive undergrad just for the purpose of being able to afford a grad school I’m passionate about.

Third is job placement. I don’t want to go to school where the state economy is tanking or where there’s a shortage of jobs. I do want to go to graduate school, but I want to work and start my career as soon as I can. It’s imperative for me to have those opportunities and connections early on in my adult life.

Sizing up job opportunities
Probably the best states for my career path would be Illinois, New York, California, and Texas -- big states with lots of corporate opportunities. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s work that I know will put me in the right place, or at least point me in the right direction.

As I think about where I will land next year at this time, the most important factor in making that decision is finding a place that has a rigorous program but also a great student atmosphere. I don’t want my most exciting night to be pizza night in the library, but I also want to be around creative, smart, driven individuals who inspire me to work my hardest and share the same ambition.