Plan for College
Learn how to prepare for the education and training that will get you your dream job.
Worried You Can't Get Into College?
Here's help to get you on your way
Maybe college seems like a great opportunity, but you aren't sure you'll get accepted. Or perhaps you have worries related to your finances. Most students have questions before they embark on a degree or certificate program. But don't let these questions turn into obstacles. Here's help for each of the more common reasons students avoid college.
- Don't think you can afford college? College costs vary, but many local community colleges and public 4-year universities can provide a great value at an affordable rate. Look for a school that provides you the degree or certificate you want, then weigh your estimated college costs. College Navigator offers a versatile search tool for pinpointing the right school. It also offers a ballpark cost for earning the degree or certificate called the net price.
- Worried about debt? If you have to, don't be afraid to borrow — college is worth it — but borrow responsibly. To minimize any loan debt you might accrue, search for scholarships, which don't have to be repaid. If you take out loans, make sure the debt fits within your budget. As a rule of thumb, many college experts consider a reasonable repayment amount to be about 10 percent or less of monthly take-home pay. Major Choices provides you a way to compare potential debt against an estimated salary for jobs in Texas.
- Have doubts about your grades? First, find out your chosen or preferred college's admissions guidelines regarding grades. If your high school grade point average (GPA) isn't what you would like or need to gain admission, consider community college as an initial step. Many community colleges have open enrollment policies, meaning grades aren't an issue. If you enroll in a community college to get a degree or transfer to a 4-year school, focus on your GPA. Good academic performance looks impressive to prospective employers as well as 4-year colleges. Find out whether your grade can get you into the college you want.
- Not sure because you're an undocumented student? If you're in high school, talk with your school's counselor about your options. Being a legal resident is not a requirement at all colleges and universities. Your counselor may know about your state's policies. Also, though federal financial aid is not available to undocumented students, some states, including Texas, allow undocumented students to apply for state financial aid and state tuition rates under certain conditions. Learn five things undocumented students should know.
- First in your family? You're likely to meet other first-generation students on campus. Also, more colleges offer resources designed specifically to support students first in their family to go to college. Tap into these resources, which can help you adjust to college life, whether that means academic tutoring, social and interest groups, financial education (for those new to managing money), or mentoring programs that pair first-generation students with senior classmen who are also first-generation. Want tips on getting college-ready or completing the Texas Application for Student Financial Aid (TASFA)?
- Undecided about a career? Many students enter college unsure about a career, and many switch majors as they learn more about their interests through course work. Use college — whether that means a 2-year community college, proprietary school, or 4-year public or private university — as a testing ground for exploring what you like to do. Many schools also offer internship programs that help you get acquainted with a profession. And campus career centers will work with you to find a good job fit for your talents. Speaking of finding a job, go to Find a Job to learn more about drafting a resume, landing an interview, and launching your career.