3 Degrees to Pursue to Achieve Financial Stability

3 Degrees to Pursue to Achieve Financial Stability

Everyone in this world wants to become financially stable—the sooner, the better. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for becoming financially stable. Even Google can’t help everyone become rich fast. 

Spending less than you earn and saving as much money as possible might help to a certain extent. But in a world where the cost of living keeps increasing, saving more money than you spend may seem impossible. 

The right degree, however, can offer a pathway to stability and prosperity within a reasonable number of years after graduating. Here, we’ll discuss three degrees — an MBA, nursing and computer science degrees — that can pave your way to financial stability. 

Whether you’re a parent looking to change your educational situation or want to pass on some advice to your high schooler, let’s dive in! 

Key Takeaway

An MBA, nursing and computer science degree all offer financial stability through increased earning potential, job security, career advancement opportunities, access to benefits, networking and personal development. These degrees can equip you with the skills and credentials needed to thrive in today’s competitive job market.

What is Financial Stability?

What does it mean when we talk about “financial stability,” exactly? Sounds like one of those terms a stuffy old bank manager would talk to you about, doesn’t it?

The financial stability meaning refers to having control over your financial situation and can handle unexpected events or emergencies when they come up, meaning you don’t experience significant hardship or disruption to your standard of living. 

Financial stability means you may be able to:

  • Navigate financial challenges like job loss or medical emergencies.
  • Avoid excessive debt burdens that lead to an inability to meet financial obligations.
  • Cover essential expenses with emergency savings.
  • Stay afloat with consistent financial support.
  • Create and stick to a budget.
  • Make informed investment decisions and plan for retirement.

How a Degree Can Help You Achieve Financial Stability

Choosing the right degree can help you achieve financial stability, and that’s obvious, right? After all, the more education you have under your belt, the more you’ll earn.

However, a degree can help you achieve more financial stability in other ways, including: 

  • Higher earning potential: It’s not just about how much you’ll make out of the gate. Individuals with higher levels of education tend to earn more over their lifetimes compared to those with lower levels of education. You’re also facing far higher career advancement job opportunities. 
  • Job security: You’re less likely to face unemployment or underemployment with the right degree, especially during economic downturns.
  • Access to benefits and perks: Some employers offer additional benefits and perks — retirement plans, health insurance, tuition reimbursement and bonuses. These “extras” can bolster your financial well-being.
  • Networking opportunities: You can network! Being part of a network of peers, professors and professional alumni from your college or university helps tremendously, and is one of the fringe benefits of financial stability. In a way, you’ll always have someone who can “catch” you if you fall. If you lose a job, why not just dip into your network?
  • Entrepreneurship: If you want to start your own business or pursue entrepreneurship, a degree can help you get there. You may be able to multiply your success and financial stability as an entrepreneur. 

Does a degree guarantee financial stability?

No. Plus, it’s important to consider factors like the cost of education, student loan debt (taking on tons of need-based student aid can affect you negatively) and job market trends when making decisions. However, pursuing the right degree for your situation, needs and personality will give you a better chance of success than never pursuing it at all.

Degrees to Consider for Financial Stability

The three degrees are likely ones you’ve already heard of. Why not consider a Master of Business Administration, nursing or computer science? Let’s take a look at each, as well as the potential salary you might earn in each field.

Degree 1: Master of Business Administration

Many executives believe that attending business school has contributed to their career success. Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will contribute to yours. 

An MBA serves as a gateway to management roles and business leadership positions, which pay higher salaries than non-management jobs. Poets and Quants discloses that the average salary for MBA graduates in 2022, as reported by 17 business schools, was $147,648.

If you want to work in a management or business-related field, consider enrolling in an MBA program. This degree will equip you with a deep understanding of business principles and management practices. You will study a wide range of subjects in depth, including marketing, operations, finance and strategic management. 

MBA graduates possess strong leadership and decision-making skills, which make them valuable assets in both entrepreneurial and corporate settings. Many business schools even offer online MBA programs, which makes them suitable for working individuals. Opt for them if you cannot afford to enroll in a traditional in-class program. 

Degree: 1 Master of Business administration diploma image.

Degree 2: Nursing

Health care is the fastest-growing industry. It is predicted to create about 45% of all the projected job gains between 2022 and 2032. 

Health care workers — surgeons, physicians and registered nurses — are always in demand. However, of all health care workers, registered nurses (RNs) are in the most demand. That is because the U.S. will experience a shortage of RNs in the upcoming years. Why not pursue a degree in nursing and fill the positions of new or retiring nurses?

A career in nursing is not only fulfilling, but also offers financial stability. With a nursing degree, you can earn between $62,253 and $140,275. 

As a nursing student, you will be exposed to a diverse range of subjects, from the principles of nursing practice, patient care, and communication skills to responding to urgent situations. You can pursue your career as an RN in a variety of settings—clinics, hospitals, schools, and community settings. 

There are several paths to becoming a registered nurse. Some earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), whereas others opt for an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Nowadays, many universities are offering an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). These programs are designed for people with bachelor’s degrees in another discipline. 

If you plan to switch your nursing career, go for the ABSN program. Quite a few nursing schools offer online accelerated nursing programs. Consider enrolling yourself in an online program if you’re a working individual. One significant benefit of online ABSN is flexibility. You can learn at your own pace and schedule without attending the traditional classroom every day. 

Finding the right program, however, can be daunting. As per Online ABSN Programs, accreditation, student support and clinical placement assistance are three criteria that you must consider to narrow your options. Go for an online ABSN program only when a university is CCNE-accredited, offers advisors or counselors and assists with placements. 

Image of the nursing symbol representing nurses.

Degree 3: Computer Science

The demand for computer science is high in today’s digital world. If you are tech-savvy, you must definitely pursue a degree in computer science. This degree will equip you with a strong foundation in programming, algorithms, and problem-solving skills. Your knowledge will prepare you for diverse roles. 

A degree in computer science opens doors to an array of career opportunities in fields like cybersecurity, data analysis, software engineering and artificial intelligence. These fields, as the world embraces everything digital, are booming and will continue to in the future. 

For example, the median pay for a cybersecurity analyst is $112,000 per year. Their average additional cash compensation is $13,097. The average base salary of a data scientist, on the other hand, is $103,500 per year. 

Image of a computer with the listing of computer science as the third degree.

Choose the Right Degree for You

The degree you pursue will have a significant impact on your financial stability as well as long-term success. So, should you go for one of these if you know in your heart that they’re not right for you? 

No. If you can’t stand the sight of blood or bodily fluids, you shouldn’t choose nursing just because you’ll earn a decent salary. Think through your talents, skills and natural tendencies so you can choose your options wisely. 

Whether you’re interested in business, healthcare or technology, there are plenty of degree options that can lead to financial stability and a rewarding career. Considering your passion, interests and long-term goals will help you choose a degree that aligns with your passions as well as position you for financial success. 


Let’s look at a few frequently asked questions you may still wonder about with regard to pursuing financial stability. 

What should you do to reach financial stability?

There are endless possibilities for reaching financial stability, including creating a budget, building an emergency fund, paying off high-interest debt, investing in your retirement, diversifying income sources, maintaining insurance coverage, educating yourself on personal finance (including reading books!), setting financial goals and seeking professional advice when needed. Finally, the most important one of all: Practice disciplined spending and live within your means.

Do you need a college degree to be financially stable?

You can attain financial stability in various ways — college isn’t your only option. You can also pursue vocational training, skilled trades, entrepreneurship and other routes to achieve stability. Higher education can enhance opportunities, but it’s not the sole determinant of financial success.

What degree makes the most money?

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field degrees typically bring home the most bacon, particularly in engineering, computer science and certain branches of medicine. Specific disciplines such as petroleum engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering and medical specialties like orthopedics or anesthesiology often command higher salaries due to high demand and specialized skills. However, other factors come into the mix, including experience, location, industry and individual career trajectory.

What Does an Admissions Counselor Do? Demystifying the Role

What Does an Admissions Counselor Do? Demystifying the Role

It’s a Tuesday at 6 p.m. 

You head into the school gymnasium, where you see tables and tables of smiling admission counselors. You’re there with your teen, who looks overwhelmed. 

You know she’s thinking it too: “Where do we start? What should we ask? Do these admission counselors just tell people about the school they work for? Do admissions representatives make decisions? What the heck does that admission counselor do all day?”

If you wonder about any of these things, read on.

Key Takeaway

A college admissions counselor is your child’s resource, providing school information, aiding in visit scheduling, assisting with applications, explaining financial aid, and equipping you to make a college decision. They guide you through the college search journey, offering invaluable support along the way.

What is an Admissions Counselor?

An admissions counselor works in colleges, universities or other postsecondary schools. Their primary responsibility is to assist prospective students with the admissions process. 

Admissions counselors play a pivotal role in recruiting and enrolling students by providing information about academic programs, application procedures, financial aid options, campus life and other relevant aspects of the institution. They also typically offer the following:

  • Relationships: If your child applies to a “reach” school, an admission counselor might have some sway with an admission committee. You want someone to go to bat for your child when you might need a little extra push, and a relationship with your admission counselor might be able to do that. 
  • Advice: College and university admission counselors (unlike a school counselor) can’t set your child’s high school class schedule. Still, we can tell you what our institution might view more favorably if you aren’t sure which class (or classes) your student should take in high school. 
  • Honesty: We’ll also be honest with you if you’re not the caliber of student who would succeed at the college or university we work for, which can save you a lot of time. We might not do general college application counseling, but we can tell you precisely what you need to apply to our institution.
If your child starts at a community college or didn’t make the right college choice coming out of high school (which is okay!), they will work with a transfer admission counselor when considering starting at a new school. 

A transfer admission counselor is a specialized type of admissions counselor specifically focusing on assisting students transferring from one college or university to another. These counselors work with students transitioning from a two-year community college, another four-year institution, or any other educational setting to a new academic environment.

The primary responsibilities of transfer admission counselors are similar to those of traditional admissions counselors but with a focus on transfer students’ unique needs and concerns. 

Some of their key responsibilities include:

  1. Assessment of transfer credits: Transfer admission counselors evaluate transfer students’ transcripts to determine which credits will be accepted by the new institution and how they will apply toward the student’s degree program.
  2. Providing information and guidance: They offer guidance to transfer students regarding the application process, deadlines, required documentation and any specific requirements for transfer applicants.
  3. Assistance with academic planning: Transfer admission counselors help students understand how their previous coursework aligns with the requirements of the new institution and assist them in planning their academic trajectory to ensure a smooth transition.
  4. Address concerns and questions: They address any concerns or questions transfer students may have about the transfer process, academic programs, campus life, housing and financial aid.
  5. Transfer credit policies: They inform students about the institution’s transfer credit policies, including any limitations on the number of credits that can be transferred and the criteria for accepting transfer credits.
  6. Facilitating connections: Transfer admission counselors often serve as a point of contact between transfer students and various departments, such as academic advisors, financial aid offices and faculty members.

The transfer admission process and timeline are different at every college. Talk with the transfer counselor at your child’s potential new college to learn about the transfer timeline. If your child comes from a different four-year institution, talk to the transfer counselor to see what steps they need to take to go through the transfer admission process. 

The documents needed as a transfer student may differ from those that first-year students need, which is why talking to a transfer admission counselor is key! Scholarships available for transfer students are often different from those offered to first-year students, so you can speak with a transfer counselor about that, too! 

Understanding the Responsibilities of Admissions Counselors

So, let’s dive in to understand exactly what admissions counselors do. 

Interviewing Prospective Students

When prospective students come to campus, an admissions counselor will typically be on hand to meet with them. Each part of the country is divided into territories, meaning that each student gets “placed” with an admissions counselor. When your child comes to campus, you’ll sit down with an admissions counselor to discuss all the opportunities, admission requirements, campus life and more. 

Many admission counselors are campus-based, so you’ll see them when you visit campus. Others are regionally based, meaning they live where they are recruiting students. 

Admission counselors like working with people, plain and simple. The relationships we can build with students (and families) we work with make our jobs fun and rewarding. 

Sometimes, high schools encourage (or require) prospective students to have an interview as part of their application or for scholarships. 

Admission counselors who do this have an idea of what they are looking for out of this interview, and your child may receive the information they need to review ahead of time, such as if something on an application stands out (either good or bad). 

I’ve said it before and will repeat it: Use the relationship you can forge with an admission counselor. 

Evaluating Recruitment Techniques and Data

Counselors follow the directives of the college or university to recruit their next class, and we ask questions like: 

  • What was missing in our last class? 
  • Did we enroll too many students into a certain program (if the college admits by program) or not enough students from a specific geographic area? 
  • All these factors determine who the college will admit to the next year’s class (and maybe more pronounced at selective schools). 

Your child needs to let us know what you bring to the table that we don’t already have.

Making Admission Decisions

Different schools use different methods to determine admission decisions. Sometimes, it’s strictly a numbers game: if your student meets certain criteria, you’re in! Other schools view students holistically, which means they look not only at grades (and possibly test scores) but also at essays or personal statements, letters of recommendation, etc. 

Admission counselors are real people reading your application. We have emotions and experiences that we come in with, and a good essay or letter of recommendation can make a difference when reading an application! 

Don’t think the admission counselor is looking for a reason to deny your child; they’re looking for reasons to admit your child. Does your child’s application have grammatical errors or inconsistencies? 

Does your child have a GPA rigor on the transcript that the college is looking for? These are the things that stand out to admission representatives. Admission counselors who read applications read many (and sometimes don’t have time to pore over them), so you want to ensure that your child stands out for good reasons, not bad ones. 

Recruiting Students

Those of us in the admission counseling role work with prospective students and want to find students who will “find their fit” at the college or university we work for. It doesn’t serve anyone to admit students who won’t be successful and ultimately leave for whatever reason. 

Building a relationship with a student can show us more than simply reading an application, and it can be helpful for a student to see what life might be like at that college! 

Do you need a bit of hand-holding and can’t get someone on the phone to answer a question? That might indicate what being a student there is like, and it might not be what you need to be successful.

How Admissions Counselors Work with Students During the Year 

Different seasons in the year bring various responsibilities for admission counselors each year. If the school you’re looking at works on rolling admissions (reviewing applications as they come in) the timelines might be slightly different, but for the most part, the role of an admission counselor is seasonal.


During the spring, admission counselors ensure that high school seniors have all the tools they need to make a college decision. Talking through financial aid awards, ensuring their housing forms are in, setting up campus visits, and working admitted student events occur now. 

Most colleges have a May 1 decision date, so everything works up to that. 

In addition, we college admission counselors are switching to working with current juniors, traveling to high schools and spring college fairs to get information for the next class so that they can start figuring out their campus visits and narrowing down the list of colleges they are considering.


Summer is the most restful time in a college admissions counselor’s year. We will help tie up loose ends with the incoming class and maybe help with summer orientation and registration, but we’re also looking back at our incoming class to see if there are any trends and what could (or should) be changed process-wise for the coming year. 


Ready, set, GO! Fall is go time! 

High school visits, fairs and pushing applications from interested students are highest on the list of priorities. Many of us will spend more days on the road than in our offices during the fall. We get out and talk to your child and their school counselor to get as much information as possible about you — my favorite part of my job. 

Colleges and universities on rolling admissions will also release decisions after an application is reviewed, so your admission counselor will be reaching out to let you know what your next steps are after receiving your decision! 

Pro tip: Is writing not one of your strengths, or have you struggled, and your GPA isn’t the best? Talk to the admission counselor to see what elements are the most important in an application. 


Winter is review and scholarship time. For admission counselors who review applications, we will spend much of our time in the winter reading applications and working with students to go through their next steps. 

Some schools hold scholarship events in the winter months so that you can have a complete financial aid award (and understand it) before deciding where your child will land the following fall. 

How Admissions Counselors Work with High Schoolers

Your interactions with admission counselors will change throughout your child’s high school career as much as the schools they consider may change. What they want as a high school freshman will differ from what they prefer as a senior! 

Here’s a rough overview of what you can expect from an admission counselor throughout high school.

Freshmen and Sophomores in High School

As students are likely just starting to think about “what comes after high school” as freshmen and sophomores, they will probably have limited contact with an admission counselor. 

If you want to get out and visit colleges, do it! The more exposure you get, the less confusing this process will be later. 

You should expect follow-up from an admission counselor, but most communication will come from you, not the admission counselor.

Juniors in High School

Juniors receive more communication from colleges and their admission counselors. We want juniors to think more seriously about “what comes next.” 

You can expect admission counselors to encourage you to visit colleges, and you’ll find that many schools offer visit days specifically for juniors. 

Seniors in High School

As your child approaches their senior year in high school, you’re likely navigating the maze of college applications and decisions together. It’s a pivotal time, and I want to assure you that admission counselors are here to support both you and your senior throughout this process.

First and foremost, admission counselors are your partners in ensuring your child’s smooth transition to college. They serve as invaluable resources in providing information about various colleges, universities and programs. From admission requirements to application deadlines, they help demystify the college landscape.

Whether it’s discussing campus culture, program offerings or extracurricular opportunities, admission counselors help your senior find the best fit.

Moreover, admission counselors provide hands-on assistance with the application process itself. From deciphering application requirements to crafting compelling essays, they offer invaluable support every step of the way. They help your child put their best foot forward in presenting themselves to colleges and universities.

Financial considerations are also part of the equation, and admission counselors are well-versed in navigating the complexities of financial aid and scholarships. They provide guidance on available options and assist your family in exploring avenues to make college more affordable.

As standardized testing often plays a role in college admissions, admission counselors offer resources and strategies to help your child excel on exams like the SAT and ACT. They ensure your child feels confident and prepared when test day arrives.

Throughout the entire process, admission counselors serve as advocates for your child. They offer unwavering support, address any concerns or questions, and help your child overcome obstacles along the way.

As your child transitions from high school to college, admission counselors continue to offer assistance. They provide information on orientation programs, housing options and academic advising services, ensuring a smooth transition into college life.

Building Relationships with Admissions Counselors

Please use admission counselors as the resource that we are. We don’t visit high schools and college fairs just to hand out brochures. We want to know more about your child. The more we know, the better we can help guide them through this process. 

If you don’t need anything, that’s okay! If you do, it’s good to know you can always contact your admission counselor for help.

Do Admissions Counselors Make Decisions Regarding Admission?

Sometimes, yes! This is why your child should develop that relationship with admission counselors, especially if they’re looking at a school that might just be out of your child’s target academic range. 

If we have any pull with the admission process, we will certainly go to bat for your child (if we know them). 

The Role of Admissions Counselors Beyond Acceptance

In my position, I don’t stop reaching out once your child has been admitted. I’ll ensure that you stay on top of scholarship and financial aid deadlines, complete those next steps on time, and then help you ensure you have exactly what you need to make your college decision. 

The bulk of an admission counselor’s role involves working with prospective students, but it isn’t like a door is closed and students on campus never head into the admission office again. Developing a relationship with your admission counselor can lead to a job in the admission office when you enroll at a college or help you find your footing once you get to campus. 

Navigating Special Circumstances

The college admission process can be confusing, especially for first-generation college students. I’m here to help navigate you through the process and help whenever I can. 

The same goes for students needing accommodations to help level the playing field. Working with your admission counselor can be to your student’s advantage, as we can connect you to current students who were in similar circumstances not long before you. Plus, we’re generally more helpful than a Google search.

Tips for Parents in Supporting Their High School Students

I often say that the college search journey is like a road trip where students are the drivers. 

Are you (as the parent) sitting in the back reading, only looking up occasionally, or are you giving turn-by-turn directions (and occasionally grabbing the wheel in fear)? 

Most parents I work with are somewhere in the middle. Whatever your road trip style, you should feel like you can also build a relationship with your admission counselor. Reach out when you have questions because, in the end, we both want what’s best for your family. Think of us as your GPS. You can get turn-by-turn instructions interrupting the music from the minute you leave your block, or you can just use us when things are less familiar.

Common Misconceptions About Admissions Counselors

We admission counselors don’t usually have the final say about whether a student attends our college or university. 

We enjoy working with families and know that not every student we work with will choose to attend our school … and that’s okay! Our main objective is to develop a relationship with the students we work with so that even if your child doesn’t choose our school, you’ll have an experience that you’ll want to tell your friends and family about when it becomes their turn to go through the admissions process. 

More than an Application Collector

From the first meeting at a college fair or high school visit to greeting you on move-in day, we, as college admission counselors, are your guide and advocate. We’re there for you when you have questions, including parent questions! 

My teenagers tell me I’m good at asking “mom questions,” and I get that what parents want to know is often quite different from what students think to ask. Asking questions can only help you and your student come to a college decision that is right for you… and you don’t have to stop asking questions just because your student has paid their enrollment deposit. 

If this has brought up more questions for you or if you’ve had a good experience with a college admission counselor, please share that in the comments section. So many people don’t know how to utilize a college admission counselor, so please let us know how you worked with yours! 

Choosing a college or university to apply to should be a fun process! If you can take advantage of attending a college fair (or several), you should! This is a great time to meet with admission representatives and ask questions. What questions should you ask admissions counselors at college fairs? Here’s our list. 

Don’t treat an admission counselor as a stranger. We want to help you through this process! It’s not about selling you a college or university (although yes, that’s part of it), but it’s about selling you the right college or university for your child

Written by Jen DiSessa, senior assistant director of admission at Central College. I worked with Jen professionally during my time there. She’s amazing!

Contact College Money Tips at [email protected] if you have questions about the college search process and achieving a debt-free degree.

Questions to Ask Colleges and How to Get A+ Answers

Questions to Ask Colleges and How to Get A+ Answers

It’s important to arm yourself with a list of questions to ask colleges, but not just when you and your student are on campus. It’s important to know what you’ll ask year-round, at every point through the college visit. 

I used to work in college admission, and one family asked me such difficult questions when I was an admission counselor that I gave them an “A+” for “hardest questions of the year” and said, “You should go talk to my boss.” 

They asked me questions like, “What does the college pay for water and electricity and how does that work into my son’s tuition?”

Relevant questions get to what you need to know. Asking the right person the right questions is paramount.

What are the questions you should be asking? Whether you shoot a list of questions over to an admission counselor or want to pull a list before you go to a college fair, here’s a well-rounded list of questions to ask. 

General Questions to Ask Colleges

The topic “questions to ask colleges” is a bit interesting because there are general questions to ask colleges, and then there are ways to break it up because you’ll meet lots of individual people during the visit, including admission counselors, financial aid officers, coaches, 

What are some general questions to ask colleges? Let’s take a quick look at some questions you must ask:

  • What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
  • Can you tell me more about the academic support services available on campus?
  • What opportunities are there for undergraduate research or internships?
  • How does the college support students in finding housing options?
  • What clubs and extracurricular activities are popular on campus?
  • Are there study abroad programs available, and how are they facilitated?
  • Can you describe the campus safety measures and resources?
  • What career services are offered to students and alumni?
  • What percentage of students receive financial aid, and what types of aid are available?
  • How does the college foster diversity and inclusion among its student body?

Now, let’s dive into more pointed questions you can ask during other points in the college journey. Specifically, we’ll walk through questions to ask college admissions, coaches, college interviewers, financial aid officers, professors and career services personnel.

Questions to Ask College Admissions

I frequently received the following questions about college admissions, and I welcomed them! I’ll add another bonus question that I think is a super great one: What would you change about this college/university. Whoo, that gets the admission counselor’s wheels turning!

  • What are the application deadlines and requirements?
  • Can you explain the process for applying for financial aid or scholarships?
  • Are there any special programs or initiatives for first-generation college students?
  • What criteria are considered during the admissions review process?
  • Can you provide information about the acceptance rate and the profile of the incoming freshman class?
  • Are interviews with admissions officers or alumni recommended or required?
  • How does the college support students’ transition from high school to college?
  • Are there opportunities for early admission or dual enrollment programs?
  • Can you share insights into the college’s retention and graduation rates?
  • What resources are available for students with disabilities?

Questions to Ask College Coaches

If your child plans to play sports in college, whether they’re considering a Division I, II or III program, here are some common questions you should ask any college coach:

  • What is the team’s philosophy and approach to training and competition?
  • How do you support student-athletes in balancing academics and athletics?
  • What are the expectations for off-season training and conditioning?
  • Can you provide information about the team’s schedule and travel commitments?
  • How are playing time and positions determined within the team?
  • What academic support services are available for student-athletes?
  • Can you talk about the team’s recent accomplishments and goals for the future?
  • How do you handle injuries and medical support for athletes?
  • What are the team’s facilities like, and are there plans for upgrades or expansions?
  • How do you assist athletes in pursuing opportunities beyond college sports?

Questions to Ask College Interviewers

As part of the college search process, your child may interview with an alumnus or alumna of the college or university, and while they may ask your child questions, you may wonder about what your child should ask them. Your child must have questions in mind to ask! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Can you tell us about your own experience at this college/university?
  • What qualities or attributes is the college looking for in its students?
  • How does the college support students in exploring and declaring their majors?
  • Can you share some examples of unique opportunities or experiences available to students here?
  • How would you describe the campus community and student life?
  • What advice do you have for students transitioning from high school to college?
  • How accessible are professors and advisors for students seeking guidance or mentorship?
  • Can you describe any recent changes or developments on campus?
  • What do you think sets this college apart from others?
  • How does the college foster a sense of belonging and inclusivity among its students?

Questions to Ask Financial Aid Officers

When you’re on a college visit, you want to talk with financial aid officers as well. If you didn’t schedule a college visit and include a financial aid officer, you want to call up the admission office and get that added to your schedule.

  • What types of financial aid are available, and how does my child apply for them?
  • Can you explain the different types of loans and their terms?
  • Are there any scholarships or grants specifically available for incoming freshmen?
  • How does the college determine financial aid packages?
  • Are there work-study opportunities available, and how does my child qualify for them?
  • Can you provide information on the FAFSA and CSS Profile deadlines?
  • What happens if my financial circumstances change after I’ve submitted my financial aid application?
  • Are there any additional forms or documents required for financial aid consideration?
  • Can you explain the process for appealing a financial aid decision?
  • Are there resources available to help students understand and manage their student loan debt?

Questions to Ask Professors

You can meet with professors when you visit college campuses. It’s a good idea because your child can get an idea of who they will take classes from in college. Consider the following questions:

  • Can you tell us about your research interests and current projects?
  • How accessible are professors outside of class for student questions and discussions?
  • What opportunities are there for undergraduate students to participate in research or collaborate with faculty?
  • Can you describe the typical class size for introductory and upper-level courses in your department?
  • What teaching methods do you employ to engage students and facilitate learning?
  • Are there opportunities for students to work as teaching or research assistants?
  • How do you encourage critical thinking and intellectual curiosity in your courses?
  • Can you share examples of how you integrate real-world applications into your teaching?
  • What resources does the department provide to support student success in your courses?
  • How do you approach advising and mentorship for students majoring in your field?
Questions to Ask Career Services Personnel

If you get a chance to meet with career services (and I recommend it!) you can put forth a few questions from them.

  • What types of career development resources and services does the college offer to students?
  • Can you describe the process for students to access career counseling and advising services?
  • Are there workshops or seminars available to help students develop essential career skills such as resume writing, interviewing and networking?
  • How does the college assist students in identifying internship opportunities related to their field of study?
  • Does the college have partnerships with employers or alumni networks to facilitate job placements for graduating students?
  • Can you provide examples of companies or organizations where recent graduates have secured employment or internships?
  • Are there opportunities for students to participate in career fairs, networking events or informational interviews with professionals in various industries?
  • What support services are available to alumni who may be seeking career advancement or transitioning to new roles?
  • How does the career services office collaborate with academic departments and student organizations to enhance students’ career readiness?
  • Are there specific programs or initiatives aimed at helping students from underrepresented backgrounds succeed in their career pursuits?

Don’t forget to check out a list of questions to ask on a college tour

Questions to Ask Current Students

Current students and alumni can provide valuable insights into their personal experiences, challenges and successes at the college. Gather as many firsthand accounts as you can while you’re on campus.

  • What do you enjoy most about attending this college/university?
  • Can you describe the academic atmosphere and classroom dynamics?
  • How accessible are professors outside of class for questions and assistance?
  • What are the most popular extracurricular activities or student organizations on campus?
  • How would you describe the social scene and campus community?
  • What are some common challenges that students face here, and how does the college support students in overcoming them?
  • Can you share your experience with housing options and campus living?
  • How do students typically spend their weekends or free time on campus?
  • What opportunities are there for undergraduate research, internships, or study abroad programs?
  • How has your experience at this college/university prepared you for your future career or graduate studies?

How to Get Great Answers to Your Questions

Conduct thorough research about the college, its programs, campus culture and other relevant information before you even get on campus. This will help you ask more specific and targeted questions during your interactions. Don’t be afraid to write down the questions ahead of time and refer to them during the college tour. Better yet, print questions from this list!

Here are some tips regarding asking smart questions:

  • Go for open-ended questions: Frame your questions in a way that encourages detailed and meaningful responses. Open-ended questions typically begin with “how,” “what,” “why” or “can you describe.”
  • Listen carefully: Pay close attention to the responses you receive and ask follow-up questions to clarify any points that are unclear or require further elaboration.
  • Seek multiple perspectives: Don’t rely on a single source for information. Seek out insights from various individuals such as admissions officers, professors, students, alumni and support staff to gain a well-rounded understanding of the college experience. Ask the same question of all of them — my favorite is, “What would you change about this place?” It’s fun to watch them stumble around to answer it!
  • Utilize information sessions: Take advantage of information sessions and admission events to interact directly with college representatives and explore campus facilities.
  • Ask for specific examples: When seeking information about academic programs, support services or extracurricular opportunities, ask for specific examples or anecdotes that illustrate how students have benefited from these resources. Get them to tell stories!
  • Follow up via email or phone: If you have additional questions or need further clarification after your initial interaction, don’t hesitate to follow up with individuals at colleges via email or phone.

Finally, pay attention to how your questions are received and whether the responses align with your expectations and goals. Trust you and your child’s instincts when evaluating the information provided to make informed decisions about your college options.

Embracing the Power of Questions

One family once astounded me with their insightful inquiries during an admissions office visit. Their probing questions about the finer details of college operations left me impressed. From inquiries about utility expenses to sustainability initiatives, they demonstrated a keen awareness of what matters. While I may not have had all the answers, their questions underscored the importance of seeking relevant information.

Key Inquiries for Savvy Parents

Savvy parents ask questions related to the following things.

1. Who’s Your Child’s Admission Counselor?

Getting to know your child’s admission counselor is paramount. This dedicated individual serves as your family’s liaison to the college experience. From financial aid guidance to insider knowledge about campus life, admission counselors offer invaluable support.

2. Understanding the Admission Process

In today’s evolving educational landscape, understanding the admission process is essential. Whether it’s navigating test-optional policies or grasping COVID-19 protocols, staying informed empowers both parents and students.

3. Connecting with Key Individuals

Facilitating connections with professors and other campus figures can profoundly impact your child’s college journey. Whether it’s through virtual meetings or campus visits, fostering these relationships fosters a supportive academic environment.

4. Engaging with Current Students

Encouraging your child to interact with current students provides invaluable insights into campus life. From firsthand accounts of academic rigor to candid discussions about campus culture, these interactions offer a glimpse into the student experience.

5. Clarifying Expectations and Values

Asking about the unique experiences a college offers helps align your child’s expectations with institutional values. By understanding what sets a college apart, you can ensure a better fit for your child’s academic and personal growth.

6. Exploring Financial Aid Options

Navigating the complexities of financial aid early on empowers families to make informed decisions. Utilizing net price calculators and engaging with financial aid offices enables you to plan for college costs proactively.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Tough Questions

As parents, it’s our responsibility to advocate for our children and seek the answers we need. Don’t hesitate to ask tough questions and push for clarity throughout the college search process. Remember, you’re the customer, and your child’s future deserves nothing less than your diligent inquiry.

In conclusion, embracing the power of questions is the hallmark of savvy prospective parents. By asking the right questions and engaging with college stakeholders, you pave the way for a transformative college experience for your child. So, let’s put a zip in our step and embark on this exhilarating journey together!

Breaking Barriers: The Benefits of Pursuing an Online Master’s in Applied Statistics for STEM Experts

Breaking Barriers: The Benefits of Pursuing an Online Master’s in Applied Statistics for STEM Experts

Are you ready to break free from traditional educational boundaries and push through the barriers of time and location? Then look no further! In today’s fast-paced world, pursuing an online master’s in applied statistics is the key that unlocks endless opportunities for growth and advancement.

Whether you’re a data scientist, engineer or mathematician, this blog post will reveal why breaking barriers with an online master’s degree is convenient and immensely beneficial for STEM experts like yourself. 

Setting the Stage for Online Education in STEM Fields

The fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have always been regarded as highly demanding and competitive. With rapid technological advancements and a growing need for professionals with expertise in these areas, the demand for well-trained STEM experts has only increased. Many online universities now offer online master’s programs in applied statistics to cater to the needs of STEM professionals.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, where time is a precious commodity and work-life balance is crucial, pursuing a traditional on-campus degree may not be feasible for everyone. Online education comes into play — it allows students to study at their own pace and from anywhere in the world. However, there may still be some skepticism surrounding online education in STEM fields, particularly regarding applied statistics.

To begin with, let us address one common concern — the credibility of an online degree. Many believe an online degree holds less value than a traditional one due to misconceptions about the quality of education provided through virtual platforms.

However, it is important to note that most reputable universities offering online degrees follow strict accreditation standards set by governing bodies such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). These accreditations ensure that an online program meets high-quality standards and imparts relevant skills necessary for success in the field.

Aspiring individuals looking to pursue higher education may also face financial constraints. A traditional on-campus degree can often come with hefty tuition fees and additional expenses such as accommodation and transportation costs. On the other hand, online programs are generally more affordable since they do not incur campus maintenance costs or require students to relocate.

Additionally, many working professionals who wish to advance their careers find taking time off to pursue a traditional degree difficult. Online education eliminates this hurdle by allowing students to study from the comfort of their homes, at their convenience and without sacrificing their work commitments.

With the rapid growth in technology and the increasing need for highly skilled STEM professionals, online education has emerged as a viable option for individuals looking to advance their careers in these fields.

Learn more: What does an admissions counselor do?

What is Applied Statistics and its Importance in STEM?

Applied statistics is a branch of mathematics involving statistical techniques to solve real-world problems and make informed decisions. It plays a crucial role in various fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, making it an essential tool for experts in these industries.

One of the primary goals of applied statistics is to gather and analyze data to gain insights and draw conclusions regarding a specific problem or phenomenon. For example, you may design experiments, collect data through surveys or studies, organize and summarize large datasets, and use statistical methods to interpret the results.

In STEM fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, engineering computer science and more, applied statistics is crucial for conducting research and drawing meaningful conclusions from complex data sets. For example, biologists may use statistical techniques to analyze genetic data or assess the effectiveness of treatments on patients. Engineers may use statistics to optimize design processes or evaluate product performance.

Moreover, with advancements in technology bringing about enormous amounts of digital information daily, having the skills to extract valuable insights from big data has become increasingly important. Applied statistics allows professionals to collect relevant data points from vast quantities of information and process them into meaningful patterns or trends.

Another benefit of studying applied statistics in STEM is its ability to enhance critical thinking skills. By applying mathematical concepts to real-world problems and developing hypotheses based on observations or evidence from experiments/data analysis techniques, individuals learn to think logically and make sound decisions based on evidence rather than intuition.

Also, knowledge of applied statistics allows professionals in STEM fields to communicate complicated findings effectively. In today’s fast-paced world, cross-disciplinary teamwork has become commonplace among scientists and engineers working together on projects involving complex systems/applications/problems. Articulating one’s understanding/results is key to success, making mastering applied statistics a highly transferable skill set across diverse fields.

Learn more: Do you have to decline admission to colleges?

Benefits of Pursuing an Online Master’s in Applied Statistics for STEM Experts

Amid our swiftly evolving technological landscape, pursuing a master’s in applied statistics online is a profound endeavor for STEM experts. The contemporary realm places an unprecedented demand on professionals versed in the intricate domains of STEM and the nuanced field of statistics.

The amalgamation of these profound areas of expertise unlocks many career possibilities and elevates individuals into a realm of heightened desirability within their respective industries.

  1. Flexibility: Study at your own pace from anywhere with internet access, accommodating busy schedules without sacrificing current jobs.
  2. Diversity: Online programs attract learners from diverse backgrounds and locations, fostering collaboration and enhancing critical thinking and creativity.
  3. Cost savings: Eliminate expenses like tuition fees, housing, textbooks and transportation while receiving a high-quality education.
  4. Career advancement: Acquire advanced statistical skills, opening up new job opportunities and salary potential in industries like healthcare, finance, technology and government.
  5. Competitive edge: Demonstrate commitment to personal growth and professional development, differentiating yourself and gaining a competitive edge in promotions or new job opportunities.

Pursuing an online master’s in applied statistics for STEM experts offers flexibility, diversity, cost savings, career advancement opportunities and personal growth, breaking barriers and leading to a future filled with possibilities in the evolving world of STEM. For more information on institutions offering master’s programs in applied statistics, students can visit this graduate school website.

Flexibility and Convenience of Online Learning

An online master’s in applied statistics for STEM experts presents unparalleled flexibility and convenience. Unlike traditional on-campus programs, online learning accommodates the schedules of working professionals and those with diverse commitments.

Key advantages include:

  • Anytime, anywhere access: Online learning allows students to access course materials and lectures at their convenience, fostering self-paced study. This flexibility balances academic pursuits and other responsibilities, such as work and family obligations.
  • Overcoming geographical barriers: Online programs break down geographical constraints, enabling students to attend top-ranked universities without relocating. This inclusivity expands educational opportunities for individuals facing limitations due to location.
  • Customizable study schedules: Online programs offer multiple start dates and self-paced learning options. This adaptability empowers students to commence studies at their chosen time and progress through coursework quickly.
  • Cost and time savings: Eliminating the need for daily commutes, virtual communication tools facilitate discussions, saving time and money. This inclusive environment ensures equal participation opportunities for all students, regardless of their physical presence or location.

Learn more about virtual tours.

Cost-Effectiveness of an Online Program

Cost-effectiveness is crucial in educational decisions, and pursuing an online master’s in applied statistics is an excellent financial choice. With traditional universities becoming costlier, online programs offer lower tuition due to flexible schedules and reduced infrastructure expenses:

  1. Lower tuition: Online programs boast significantly lower tuition costs than traditional on-campus counterparts, as they eliminate physical infrastructure expenses and offer flexible scheduling.
  2. Expense savings: Students pursuing an online master’s can save on transportation, housing and meal expenses associated with physical campuses, enhancing overall cost advantages.
  3. Employer recognition: Employers increasingly acknowledge the value of online degrees, often providing financial assistance or tuition reimbursement for employees pursuing further education in this format.
  4. Work continuity: Online programs allow students to work while studying, minimizing potential income loss associated with taking time off for full-time on-campus studies.
  5. Varied tuition fees: Different universities charge varying fees for applied statistics programs, online or on campus. Researching options beforehand helps students find budget-friendly choices without compromising on education quality.
  6. Time efficiency: Online programs often require less time to complete due to flexible schedules, enabling students to work at their own pace. This accelerates the path to entering the workforce with newly acquired qualifications.

Career Advancement Opportunities with an Online Master’s Degree

Professionals in STEM increasingly opt for online master’s degrees due to the abundant career advancement opportunities they present. These programs offer specialization in data analysis, biostatistics and machine learning, making graduates highly sought-after for roles with increased responsibilities and salary potential.

Key advantages include:

  • Specialization and job opportunities: Online master’s degrees in applied statistics open doors to specialized roles like data analyst or research scientist, enhancing career prospects in evolving industries.
  • Flexibility and practical experience: Online programs offer flexibility while providing hands-on experience through remote internships or research projects, building technical skills and professional relationships crucial for future growth.
  • Continuous learning and adaptability: Employers value post-graduate degrees as they signify a commitment to continuous learning and adaptability in the dynamic technological landscape.
  • Leadership opportunities: Advanced statistical knowledge gained through an online master’s equips professionals for leadership positions, enabling effective team management and data-driven decision-making.
  • Networking opportunities: Virtual collaboration with professionals worldwide facilitates valuable connections, enhancing knowledge exchange and fostering a global professional network.

Real-World Application of Skills Learned in an Online Master’s Program

These programs equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the ever-evolving world of data analysis and interpretation. But how do these skills translate into real-world applications? Let’s explore some practical uses of the skills learned in an online master’s program in applied statistics.

Data Analysis and Modeling

One of the primary focuses of an online master’s program in applied statistics is teaching students how to analyze large data sets using various statistical tools and techniques. It helps individuals make informed decisions based on data-driven insights. In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations rely heavily on data to improve their operations, products, services and overall performance.

With expertise gained from their master’s program, graduates can effectively handle complex datasets, identify patterns and trends, create predictive models and make sound recommendations — all valuable skills employers seek.

Statistical Software Proficiency

You can also become proficient with various statistical software. Academic researchers and industry professionals use these due to their flexibility and robust features for analyzing complex datasets.

By mastering these software programs through practice exercises and hands-on projects during their coursework, students build marketable skills that can enhance their career prospects across diverse industries.

Experimental Design

Another critical component taught in an online master’s program is experimental design — planning studies or experiments to collect valid results efficiently while minimizing potential biases or errors.

Understanding different experimental designs allows students to conduct research with accuracy and precision, a valuable skill applicable not only in academia but also in health care, agriculture and engineering.

Communication and Presentation Skills

Professionals require effective communication to succeed in their careers. In an online master’s program in applied statistics, students will interpret statistical analysis accurately and communicate their findings clearly and meaningfully to various stakeholders.

This includes writing technical reports, presenting results during team meetings or conferences, or creating data visualizations to simplify complex information for non-technical audiences — all vital skills needed in the real world.

An online master’s program in applied statistics can open doors to various career opportunities across different industries. The practical skills learned through this program not only enhance employability but also prepare students for the real-world challenges they will face as professionals in statistics.

Armed with these valuable skills, graduates can break barriers and significantly impact society by using data-driven insights to inform decision-making processes.

Is an Online Master’s in Applied Statistics Right for You?

Does an online master’s make sense for you? Consider all the qualifications for a master’s in applied statistics and what it could do for your career trajectory. If you feel it’s the right move for you, consider it to “up” your game in your current or future career.

If you want to search around for the best online masters in applied statistics, start your research by looking at various colleges and comparing all of their features, side by side.

Learn more about organizing college applications to get you moving in the right direction.

What is a Community College? Everything You Need to Know About Junior Colleges

What is a Community College? Everything You Need to Know About Junior Colleges

As your child goes through the college search process, consider discussing the different types of colleges for their general education. When I was at college fairs as an admission counselor, I noticed that students didn’t understand the differences between a liberal arts college and community college and a community college and a university.

For example, a student would come to my table and say, “Do you have automotive technology?”

(I worked for a liberal arts college.)

It certainly wasn’t their fault — nobody taught them the differences. 

So, what is a community college, exactly?

You might know them as junior or technical colleges serving local communities. Your initial first reaction to the question might even be, “Uhhh… They’re affordable.” But you likely already know there’s more to it than that — but how much more?

Let’s find out the exact community college meaning, degrees offered, degree program length, costs — everything you’ll need to know about community colleges.

What is a Community College?

What are community colleges, besides schools offering 2 year college degrees?

At the risk of sounding like a textbook, here’s the community college definition: A community college, or a junior college or technical college, is a type of educational institution that provides postsecondary education with various programs, including associate degrees, certificates, and diploma programs. These colleges typically serve local communities, and many students can access them.

Community colleges play a crucial role in higher education by providing more affordable options for students who may not be ready or able to attend a four-year university. They often offer two-year associate degree programs, which can be a stepping stone for students who plan to transfer to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor’s degree. Community colleges often provide vocational and technical training programs that prepare students for specific careers.

These institutions are community-oriented and may offer a diverse range of courses, catering to the needs and interests of the local population. Community colleges are known for their flexibility and accessibility. They often focus on practical skills that can lead to immediate employment opportunities.

Is there a community college in your community? Talk with your child about that example so they learn to differentiate between types of colleges. Let’s walk through a few of the tenets of community colleges that make them appealing to the right student.

By the way, what is a junior college vs community college? They are the same thing.

Characteristics of a Community College

What are the major tenets of a community college? Let’s look at some of the broader characteristics of community colleges, starting with two of their hallmarks — accessibility and affordability — because that’s the crux of community colleges, right?


Community colleges strive to provide accessible higher education to many individuals, including recent high school graduates, working adults, and those seeking career advancement or retraining opportunities.

Many community colleges have open admission policies, which means they accept all students who have completed high school or earned a GED certificate, regardless of academic background or achievement.


Community colleges generally offer lower tuition than four-year institutions, making higher education more financially feasible for students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

Local Service

Community colleges work in your backyard. They often prioritize serving the needs of their local communities by offering relevant educational programs, workforce development initiatives and community outreach efforts. They actively engage with local businesses, industries, government agencies, and community organizations to address workforce needs, promote economic development, and foster civic engagement.

Community colleges frequently provide pathways for your child to transfer credits to four-year colleges and universities, enabling them to pursue bachelor’s degrees and beyond.

Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Community colleges offer a variety of career-focused programs and vocational training opportunities designed to prepare students for entry into specific industries or professions.

Community colleges serve as hubs for lifelong learning, offering non-credit courses, adult education programs and professional development opportunities for individuals seeking to enhance their skills or pursue personal interests.

Student Support 

Community colleges typically offer support services to help students succeed academically, including tutoring, counseling, career advising, and assistance with financial aid and enrollment processes.


Community colleges often provide flexible scheduling options, including evening, weekend, and online courses, to accommodate their student population’s diverse needs and schedules.

Campus Size

Community college campuses can vary widely, and there isn’t a standard size for all community colleges. The size of a community college campus depends on factors such as location, student enrollment, available facilities and programs offered. Some community colleges have smaller campuses serving a more localized population, while others may have larger campuses accommodating more students.

On average, community college campuses can range from a few acres to larger campuses with multiple buildings and facilities. Some are absolutely gargantuan — the size of small universities!

Thinking of visiting a community college? Learn the questions to ask on college visits.


Classes in a community college can vary widely depending on the specific college, the program or major your child chooses and the course level. Community college classes tend to be smaller than those at four-year universities, which may be music to a parents’ ear: More personalized attention from instructors and greater opportunities for class participation.

As you already know, many community college programs focus on practical, hands-on skills that prepare students for specific careers.


So, who would be teaching your child at a community college? It’s a great question because you may wonder what credentials community college instructors hold. In truth, they typically hold educational credentials and professional experience. They can vary depending on the college, the subject area, and the course level. 

Common credentials that community college instructors have include: 

  • Master’s degrees
  • Professional experience
  • Doctorate (Ph.D.) or Ed.D.)
  • Teaching experience
  • Industry certifications 
  • Continuing education (ongoing professional development to say current in the field and enhance teaching skills)
  • Licensure or accreditation

However, you’ll likely feel great realizing that Instructors at community colleges are usually accessible and approachable and generally want to help your child when necessary.


Community colleges typically have limited on-campus housing options compared to four-year universities. Many community colleges do not provide on-campus housing at all. Students often live:

  • Off-campus in nearby apartments
  • Rental housing
  • At home, with family 

However, some community colleges may offer limited on-campus housing options, particularly those in urban or densely populated areas.

If available, the on-campus housing at community colleges is generally more modest than larger universities. It may include dormitory-style rooms or apartments, often with shared facilities. Community college housing is often designed to be more cost-effective and practical, catering to the needs of local and commuting students. Amidst these practical considerations, it’s crucial for students to also think about the security of their personal belongings.

Securing renters insurance for college students is a prudent measure, safeguarding against the unexpected and ensuring that while they benefit from the convenience and affordability of community college housing, they’re also prepared for any unforeseen events.

It’s important to note that the availability and types of housing options can vary significantly between community colleges, so students interested in attending a particular institution should check with that college directly for information on housing options.

Learn more: What is Room and Board?

What Degrees Do Community Colleges Offer?

Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees, certificate programs, and vocational training. Some of these degrees could be a jumping-off point for a four-year college.

Community colleges offer a variety of degrees and credentials to cater to their students’ diverse needs and goals. The main types of degrees offered at community colleges include:

  • Associate of Arts (AA): An AA emphasizes the liberal arts (a broad-based education) and is often designed for transfer to a four-year college or university.
  • Associate of Science (AS): An AS focuses on scientific and technical subjects and may be transfer-oriented.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS): An AAS emphasizes practical skills and vocational training and helps individuals aim for immediate entry into the workforce.
  • Certificates and diplomas: Short-term programs provide specialized training in a specific field, often leading to entry-level employment. Diploma programs are similar to certificate programs but may have a longer duration and cover a broader range of skills.
  • Transfer programs: Many community colleges have agreements with four-year institutions to facilitate the seamless transfer of credits. Students can start at a community college and later transfer to a university to complete their bachelor’s degree.
  • Career and technical education (CTE) programs: You can find CTE programs in health care, information technology, business and manufacturing fields, which provide hands-on training and skills needed for specific careers. They may also offer continuing education for various career types.
  • General education: Community colleges often provide general education courses that fulfill lower-division requirements for a bachelor’s degree. 

Do community colleges all offer the same degrees and programs? 

Not at all. They can vary by institution, so have your child check their options at various community colleges. These flexible options make community colleges attractive for individuals seeking affordable education and training for various career paths.

Degree Program Length

The amount of time it’ll take to complete a degree from start to finish depends on the type of program you choose to go after. It usually takes between six months and two years to achieve a degree. Students can take evenings or weekends classes, which can be handy while juggling other responsibilities.

Here’s a general guide to how long it takes to get each degree, but remember there will always be outliers. 

  • Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS): Two years for full-time students
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS): Two years for full-time students 
  • Transfer programs: Two years 
  • Career and technical education programs: Vary in duration but generally last no more than two years
  • General education programs: Some community colleges offer one-year certificate programs, while others may have two-year associate degree programs. 

Costs of Community College

In 2023-24, the College Board reported the cost of a public two-year college in-district as $3,990 for full-time students, $100 higher than in 2022-23. The average published (sticker) tuition and fees among other types of colleges include the following: 

  • Public four-year in-state: $11,260, $270 higher than in 2022-23 
  • Public four-year out-of-state: $29,150, $850 higher than in 2022-23 
  • Private nonprofit four-year: $41,540, $1,600 higher than in 2022-23 

What do those costs break down to? The costs of attending a community college can vary based on factors such as location, residency status and programs, and they break down into smaller parts:

  • Tuition and fees: Community colleges generally have lower tuition rates than four-year institutions. Tuition costs can vary based on whether you are an in-state resident, out-of-state resident, or international student. 
  • Textbooks and supplies: The cost of textbooks and required course materials can add to the overall expense. Some students explore options like buying used books or renting to save money.
  • Transportation: Consider the cost of commuting to and from the community college. This includes gas or diesel, public transportation fees or parking costs.
  • Housing and living expenses: If you live off-campus, you must budget for housing, utilities, and other living expenses. Commuting students should factor in any additional costs associated with transportation.
  • Health insurance: Some community colleges require students to have health insurance. If you don’t have coverage through other means, you may need to purchase a health insurance plan through the college.
  • Technology and equipment: Depending on the program of study, students may need to invest in specific technology or equipment, such as a computer or software.
  • Personal expenses: Budget for personal expenses like food, clothing and other miscellaneous items.
  • Student activity fees: Community colleges may charge student activity fees to support campus events, organizations and services.

Tuition and fees can vary significantly from one community college to another. Additionally, in-state residents usually benefit from lower tuition than out-of-state residents. Check the specific community college’s website or contact the college’s financial aid office for detailed information on tuition, fees and other associated expenses. Many community colleges provide a net price calculator on their websites to help estimate the total cost of attendance.

It’s important to explore all available options and work with the community college’s financial aid office to understand your child’s specific financial assistance programs and resources. Additionally, consider budgeting and managing expenses wisely to maximize the available financial resources.

How Community Colleges Differ from Universities

What is a community college vs university? Community colleges and universities are two distinct types of higher education institutions, each with its own characteristics and purposes.

Here are some key differences between community colleges and universities.

Degrees Offered

So, we mentioned the community college degree types earlier. Conversely, universities offer a wide range of degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Universities are known for providing comprehensive and in-depth education across various disciplines.

Program Duration

Community college programs are generally shorter in duration, with many students completing their education in two years or less. Community colleges often emphasize practical, hands-on training.

University bachelor’s degree programs typically take four years to complete. Master’s and doctoral programs add additional study, research and specialization years.

Admission Criteria

At universities, admission criteria are generally more competitive, with universities seeking students who meet specific academic standards, standardized test scores and other requirements.

Learn more: How Long Do Admission Officers Read Applications?

Class Size

Community colleges tend to have smaller classes, allowing for more personalized attention and interaction between students and instructors. Universities may have larger class sizes, especially in introductory courses, and students may interact less directly with professors.

Cost of Tuition

Community colleges provide a more affordable option for students seeking to complete general education requirements or obtain vocational training. Universities generally have higher tuition costs, which can vary based on factors such as the degree program level and whether the student is an in-state or out-of-state resident.

Focus on Research

Community college professors primarily focus on teaching and may have fewer student research opportunities. Community college instructors spend most of their time teaching and working with students. They usually don’t spend as much time working on research as their counterparts at four-year institutions. 

At large research universities, professors usually spend a good amount of time conducting original research and often spend less time teaching. Emphasize both teaching and research. Universities often provide research opportunities for students, especially at the graduate level.

Campus Life

Community colleges offer a much different social aspect because most community colleges are commuter colleges. Most students do not live on campus, meaning it has a much less residential community feeling. Universities offer a more traditional campus experience with diverse student activities, clubs and organizations.

So, is one “better” than the other?

Not at all. Community colleges and universities play vital roles in the education system, serving different needs and populations. It depends on your child’s individual goals, preferences and career aspirations. Starting at a community college and later transferring to a university is completely viable.

How Community Colleges Differ from Liberal Arts Colleges 

Similar to a university, you will experience a residential community differently at a liberal arts college compared to a community college. First of all, what is a liberal arts college? 

Community college students on a four-year track can elect to attend a liberal arts college after two years as a transfer student. Majors will look different at a community college than a liberal arts institution. You’ll find a focus on the classics — you won’t find majors like industrial technology or welding at a liberal arts college. Remember the differences the next time you go to a college fair! 

Here are key differences between community colleges and liberal arts colleges.

Degree Offerings

Liberal arts colleges provide bachelor’s degrees in a broad range of liberal arts disciplines. They focus on a well-rounded education emphasizing the liberal arts, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and the arts.

Opposed to a curriculum often tailored to meet local workforce needs, liberal arts colleges emphasize a broad-based education focusing on critical thinking, communication skills and a well-rounded understanding of various disciplines.

Program Duration

Liberal arts programs are typically four-year bachelor’s degree programs. Some liberal arts colleges may also offer graduate programs, but the primary focus is on undergraduate education.

Size and Class Structure

Community colleges tend to have larger enrollments, and class sizes can vary. Liberal arts colleges are often smaller, with smaller class sizes that facilitate more personalized attention. The focus is on fostering close interactions between students and faculty.

Admissions Criteria

Liberal arts colleges typically have selective admissions processes (or more so than community colleges, anyway!). They admit students who meet specific academic standards, demonstrate a strong academic background, and show potential for success in a liberal arts environment.

Campus Culture

Liberal arts colleges foster a more intimate and close-knit campus community. Students may be encouraged to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Both community colleges and liberal arts colleges serve important roles in higher education, catering to different educational goals and preferences. Students should consider their career aspirations, academic interests and preferred learning environment when choosing between these institutions.

Pros and Cons of a Community College

There are several reasons students choose to attend a community college — and there are several cons you may want to consider seriously. However, they also depend on your child’s personal preferences and perspectives:


Pros could include:

  • Affordable tuition
  • Flexible schedule
  • Can be a good way to transition from high school to college
  • Small class sizes
  • Convenience of living at home
  • Can help you figure out what you want to study


Cons include: 

  • Curriculum is usually limited and less rigorous
  • Student life is less robust
  • Commuter school isn’t for everyone
  • Professors with a terminal degree in their field aren’t the norm

What are your kids’ highest priorities? For example, if our child seeks an active social life and a challenging curriculum. A community college may not be the best fit. On the other hand, if your son’s priority is to save money, and that’s it, then a community college could be the best choice.

Does a Community College Fit Your Child’s Needs?

The value of attending a community college depends on your child’s individual goals, circumstances and career aspirations. Your child can do a lot to consider the cost, transfer opportunities, flexibility, practical training, diversity on campus, long-term goals, class sizes, workforce needs, skill development and transitional support.

Suppose your child wants to use a community college as a stepping stone to a university or find fulfilling careers directly after completing a community college program — all the power to them! The worth of a community college education depends on how well it aligns with your child’s personal and professional objectives.

How Long Are College Tours?

How Long Are College Tours?

A great question when your child plans to start the college search process: How long are college tours? 

Most college tours take between 60 and 90 minutes, but some may be longer or shorter. Generally, most colleges shoot for 60-minute tours and have a tour route prescribed for student work-study personnel that lasts that long. As you can see, understanding the answer to “how long is a college tour?” isn’t as simple as it seems!

Why not? Some prospective students may require a more personalized tour. For example, if your child is interested in engineering, they may request a tour of the engineering facility, which may last longer than a traditional 60-to-90-minute tour. 

Let’s look at the definition of a college tour, the length of a typical college tour and visit, the components of a college tour, how to choose your college tour length and some tips. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the right tour length for your child. 

What is a College Tour?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between “college tour” and “college visit” — the tour portion of a college visit is a much smaller part of the campus visit. 

The tour is a part of a college campus visit. During a college visit, prospective students and their family members schedule a time in which they can take a look at a college or university. They may do several things on a college visit, but the tour in particular, shows off certain components of a campus, possibly including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • Residence halls (also called dorm rooms)
  • Cafeteria
  • Academic buildings
  • Athletic facilities
  • Student center or student union
  • Library
  • Other areas of the campus

In contrast, the college visit involves a much larger, more comprehensive picture of the college. It could involve the following: 

  • Talking to an admission counselor
  • Conferencing with the financial aid office
  • Meeting with a coach
  • Chatting with someone from an extracurricular activity
  • Talking with an academic advisor
  • Chatting with a dietician in the cafeteria (or another professional you want to talk to)
  • Listening in on an academic session

How Long is a College Tour? 

How long does a college tour take? As mentioned above, it takes between 60 and 90 minutes to take a college tour, with many colleges shooting for a one-hour tour.

How Long is a College Visit? 

Let’s go beyond the question of “How long are campus tours?”

A college visit can last as long as your student and the admission office agree it can last. 

For example, if your student wants it to last for two days because she wants to spend the night on campus to get to know the campus better, she can. However, college visits typically last a few hours. 

During those few hours, you may fit in a campus tour, a talk with a professor, a conversation with a coach, eating lunch on campus, an academic session, etc. If you want the quick version, you may be in and out in an hour and a half, with just a tour of campus and a chat with an admission professional.

You can schedule other types of meetings during a college visit, but as you can see, the college tour represents only a small percentage of the college visit. A full schedule might look something like this: 

9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Tour Kaitlin Clark (tour guide)

10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Meeting Melissa Brock (admission counselor)

10:30 – 11 a.m. Meeting Rachel Williams (professor)

11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Meeting Danny Brand (coach)

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch Sarah Henken (student)

As you can see, the tour lasts one hour in this made-up scenario. 

Components of a College Tour 

A campus tour gives your child (and you!) a much more up close and personal understanding of a college. A campus tour almost always starts from the admission office at a college or university. The campus tour usually takes a circuitous route across campus, so you end up back in the admission office after the tour.

Students employed by the admission office usually give the tours on campus. Typically, upper-class students trained to give tours get this job. In most cases, unless arranged in advance, the student you get for your tour guide will be someone who has a work-study at that particular time. However, some small liberal arts colleges may try to arrange a one-on-one campus tour with someone with the same interests as your student. You’ll likely go on large group campus tours at large state universities. 

When I worked in admissions, the students we hired to give tours worked in one-hour increments. For example, one of our students, Kaitlin, worked from ten to noon daily. Therefore, whenever prospective students and parents visited in the morning, she would give tours between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. or 11 a.m. to noon. 

If a student requested to see additional buildings or we knew we’d have a slow-moving group, we’d schedule the tour for 10 a.m. — just in case she wouldn’t get back in time for her noon class. 

Keep in mind that it’s likely that the tour guide will show you the very best the school has to offer. They likely won’t show you the dingiest dorm room or the oldest building on campus unless it’s a national treasure.

Getting your questions answered is one of the most important parts of the college tour. The student tour guide can give you insight on life on campus, class sizes, the food on campus, dorm living, campus traditions, course availability for first-year students, student body diversity, extracurricular activities, professor/student interactions and other features. You and your student can and should ask as many questions as you and your student can think of. 

If there is an area of campus that you can’t get to on your tour but your student wants to see, ask whether it’s possible to see it later on your visit. An accommodating admission office should make it happen before you leave. 

Pro tip: If you can, ask to see an academic building where you plan to take classes. That will give you an idea of what the academic buildings look like in your area of study — not just the most beautiful, updated ones they use to show prospective students.

Learn more: Are college tours free? 

Can You Choose Your College Tour Length?

Do you know that you and your child can choose your college tour length? You can! You’re not entirely powerless — you don’t have to let the college do all the scheduling. Let’s look at how to choose the length of your college tour.

Step 1: Think through an ideal tour.

Think past the entire campus visit and specifically about the tour itself. What does an A+ college tour look like? Does it mean seeing one of the newest residence halls? Does it mean looking at the library to see how students utilize that space?

It may be hard to visualize, particularly if you and your student have just started visiting college campuses for the first time. You simply may not have any idea what to expect. In that case, it’s okay. Think carefully about your students’ interests before you go to the next step.

Step 2: Contact the admission office.

Call the admission office of the school your child wants to visit. Even better, require your student to call the admission office for the visit. 

For example, let’s say you plan to bring your child’s grandparents on campus, and they need a wheelchair-accessible tour. Calling the admission office ahead of time allowed us to make an excellent plan for the grandparents and also allowed us to discuss the logistics of the visit with the student tour guide in advance. College admission offices are notoriously flexible, but you still want to be as forthcoming as possible. 

Talk about needs and specific requests. If you think your child will want to see more buildings, for example, it’s a good idea to talk about that with someone beforehand. 

Make sure you call at least a week in advance. Colleges (particularly those putting together visits by hand, which happens at small private institutions) appreciate the lead time. When in doubt, kindly let the admission office know. The admission office may schedule you for a longer tour.

Step 3: Talk about timing.

Once your student explains what she wants to do while on campus, have her ask the admission office how much time it’ll take. If you’re under time constraints, make those known as well. You want to pack in as much value into the tour (and the visit) as possible without sacrificing quality and a little downtime. 

Suppose the campus visit coordinator at the admission office says it will take four hours to complete the tour and other things your student wants, but you only have three hours available. 

In that case, it gives you a good starting point to determine how to build out the best visit under specific time constraints. Either that or you could make more time in your schedule for the visit. Keeping everyone on the same page allows for the best situation possible. That way, there are no surprises — for the school, you or your child. 

Step 4: Confirm in advance.

The admission office should send your child a confirmation in the mail, via text or through email — or a combination of all three. It’s a good idea to confirm that all the details are correct. If they aren’t, call long before the scheduled visit date so that the admission office can make the necessary corrections.

Example of How to Choose Your College Tour Length 

Want an example of how to choose your college tour length. You got it!

Let’s say your child calls the admission office at XYZ University and finds out that it will take one hour to take a general tour of campus. However, your child wants to tour the athletic facilities privately. In that case, during the call to the college admission office, ask for a lengthier tour or tack on the athletic facility tour with a coach or another tour guide at the end of the day.

Tips for Adjusting Tour Length While on Campuses

You might have a million questions to ask on a college tour, but keep these tips in mind: 

  • You may not have much flexibility. In other words, you may not have any control over tour length. Some schools have a very rigid process and schedule for tours. For example, some give large group tours, show two buildings, and that’s it. 
  • Respect the tour guide’s time. They are usually students and may have to run to a class immediately after the tour. Some students schedule themselves for their work-study jobs tightly between classes because they’re so busy. 
  • Talk with the admission office about taking more time after the tour. If you go through the tour and don’t feel your tour guide did the best job possible or didn’t get to as much as you had anticipated, consider asking the campus visit coordinator for more time. They may ask another student to take you on a short tour at the end of your day. 

You Can Adjust Your College Tour (in Most Cases)

Now that you know the answer to “How long is a campus tour?” remember that most colleges and universities typically want to try to accommodate your child as much as possible and allow you to do as much as your child requests. It never hurts to ask for those “extras,” even though the online schedule looks like it won’t change much. 

You’ve probably already heard the term, “You’ll never know until you ask.” It’s completely true in the case of college tours. Note also that getting your child’s boots on campus is important. Many virtual tours like Drake’s exist, but you want to make sure your child gets on campus for an on-campus university tour.

Depending on your needs, colleges and universities may allow you to shorten or lengthen the tour. However, it’s important to ask if your child wants something special or something not necessarily spelled out online. 

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