Choosing a college online

Aug. 1, 2003
Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions that you make in life. In monetary terms, college easily can be the second largest expenditure in life, exceeded only by the cost of a house.

By Jeffrey B. Dalin

Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions that you make in life. In monetary terms, college easily can be the second largest expenditure in life, exceeded only by the cost of a house. (Some colleges cost more for four years than the average cost of a house in some states!) College is not only a preparation for a career U it helps you prepare for life!

You do a lot of "growing up" when you are on your own for the first time. The choice of a college has lifelong implications, so the stakes are very high — personally as well as educationally — when choosing which college to attend. There are a number of sources to help sort through all this. You can talk to guidance counselors, purchase books, or, in the age of the World Wide Web, search online. The type of institution best-suited to your child depends on his or her individual needs and talents.

Let's go online and see what is out there to help you in this project:

First visit www.leaderu.com/alumni/sowell-choo sing/toc.html. This is a "Guide for Parents and Students for Choosing a College." It is well-written and gives you some ideas to consider. Once you've done your homework here, it's time to surf the Web to gather all of the information you can find on choosing, applying to, and paying for college.

Back To College: www.back2college.com — This site is filled with information on colleges, admissions, financial aid, degree programs, career-planning, books, and more.

College Express: www.collegeexpress.com — On this site, search for college information, scholarships, and loans.

College View: www.collegeview.com — This site has a career center, as well as information on college financing, and general information about colleges around the country.

Colleges: www.colleges.com — This is a general site full of information about searching and attending college.

College Board: www.collegeboard.com — This site helps you prepare for board exams and then helps you find information on colleges and finances.

Princeton Review: www.princetonreview.com — This is the granddaddy of all college-information sites.

Fast Web: www.fastweb.com — On this site, you can pick your criteria and it will match you using a database of over 4,000 colleges. Once you choose your school, you will then find resources for financial aid and/or scholarships.

Wired Scholar: www.wiredscholar.com —This site helps you prepare for, select, apply to, and pay for college.

Go College: www.gocollege.com — Find your dream school here and learn how to apply to the college of your choice. This site will also provide information on how to pay for your dream school once you begin attending it.

OK, you have chosen your college. Now panic is setting in as you try to figure out how to pay for it. As I mentioned before, many of the sites I have listed contain information on paying for your education. Be sure to explore these areas.

However, here's a few more sites for you to check, all dedicated solely to the financing of a college education:

FinAid: www.finaid.org — Everything you always wanted to know about scholarships, loans, prepaid tuition plans, and more is here.

College Savings: www.collegesavings.org — You can find all sorts of information here about college savings plans and 529 plans.

Saving For College: www.savingforcollege.com — I am sure you have heard about 529 Savings Plans. This site is filled with information about the way to save money for a college education for your children.

Once you have chosen your college and figured out how to pay for it all, check out these fun sites:

All Dorm: www.alldorm.com — This site is filled with products that your college student may want or need, ranging from things needed for bathrooms and bedrooms to electronics to furniture to lighting and more.

College Care Package: www.collegecarepack age.com — In the mood to send a care package off to your student? Visit this site for beverages, cookies, chips and snacks, candy, books, CDs, games, gift certificates, and more.

The Internet is a very useful tool in the search for information on a college education for your children. Good information is crucial to this important decision-making process. There are a lot of colleges out there. Do your homework, and this decision can not only be a challenging one, but a lot of fun at the same time!

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdas miles.com. Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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