Cheap Colleges: A Guide for International Students

College 3

Doc Seidman Says….

….In the United States, no two colleges are the same. The amount you will pay (tuition) will vary from college to college. If you are trying to study in the United States on a limited budget, the college you choose to attend will be your most important decision. You would want to go to a college with a good reputation yet not have to spend too much money.

The reputation of the college is very important in the United States. The school you graduate from will go on your resume and be part of your permanent record. As you may know, there are “elite” or top colleges in the U.S. (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, for example) but not everyone can get into them or afford to go. They can also be very expensive. You would then want to find a good college that good reputation in the area you want to study.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, these are the least expensive U.S. colleges:

 

NAME OF COLLEGE STATE TUITION AND FEES (in US $)
Brigham Young University Utah $5,460
Arkansas Baptist College Arkansas $8,760
Tougaloo College Mississippi $10,600
Jarvis Christian College Texas $11,720
Blue Mountain College Mississippi $11,760
Alice Lloyd College Kentucky $12,050
William Carey University Mississippi $12,300
Park University Missouri $12,470
Amridge University Alabama $12,630
Bethune-Cookman University Florida $14,410

 

The most expensive colleges are:

NAME OF COLLEGE STATE TUITION AND FEES (in US $)
Columbia University New York $57,208
Vassar College New York $55,210
Harvey Mudd College California $54,886
University of Chicago Illinois $54,825
Trinity College Connecticut $54,770
Franklin and Marshall College Pennsylvania $54,380
Tufts University Massachusetts $54,318
Amherst College Massachusetts $54,310
University of Southern California California $54,259
Sarah Lawrence College New York $54,010

 

Now that you have a low and high dollar amount for the cost of college in the United States, you can better understand how much money you will need. If your college choice or choices is/are not on the list, you can see whether the tuition they charge is on the lower or higher side. As many international students know, they will not have the same benefits that an American student will have. This includes:

  • Student Loans- money the U.S. government lends students at a reduced interest rate
  • Grants- money the government provides students to attend school. Grant money is a gift and not a loan. It does not need to be paid back. Grant money is often need based.
  • Scholarships- money for college provided to students by companies or organizations. Students must apply to receive scholarship money. It, too, does not need to be paid back. Most, but not all scholarships are merit based.

Keep in mind that there are many costs in going to college. The amounts given here are for tuition and various application fees. They do not include other important costs such as: rent, food, book, transportation, and spending money. You would want to make sure you factor in these amounts before you decided to study in the United States.

As you probably know, as an international student, you are not able to work in the United States, unless it is for employment designated by the school. That means you will most likely not be able find a job to help you pay for things. Plan accordingly. Finding a lower cost college in a lower cost part of the country can certainly help.

Finally, remember, as part of your F1 Visa interview, you will need to show that you have the financial ability to go to college in the United States. Going to a lower cost school can certainly help, however, it may not be the answer.

Your Second Home

colleagues

Doc Seidman Says:

…Anyone out there looking for the perfect job? I encourage you to read the following post from my colleague Lucy Capul about what you need to be looking for.

  • Once you start working, do you realize you spend more time at work than at home? You spend most of your time at the office, with your colleagues, in meetings, on the computer, or on the phone. Every industry and every company is different. But one thing is similar. Your “office,” or the place where you work, becomes your second home.

I recently had a conversation with two friends. One friend was having a hard time adjusting to the new boss micromanaging everything. This drastically changed the office culture for the worse. Another friend was interviewing for a possible new position which would require her to relocate to a new state. In these conversations, there was a common theme: The office culture.

If you are in the process of interviewing for that dream job after college, or are planning on relocating, one of the top questions you should ask at the end of the interview is: “What is the company culture/team dynamic?” This question, as well as other important questions to ask at the end of your interview are discussed in Affordable College Prep’s Career Development Advising Packages.

My friend who was having a difficult time adjusting to the new micromanaging director was considering moving to a different department or even changing jobs but felt she would have to start over from scratch. She spent so much time building up her position in that office she felt she it would be like starting over if she were to get a new job. The advice I gave her was that no matter where you go, whether you are promoted or even get a new job in a new company, you still need to learn from scratch. It was important for her to see if the change in company culture was worth staying or if it was something that would ultimately affect her personally and physically.

If you are in the same predicament, ask yourself, “Is the stressful environment worth staying?” Does it make you a better professional and person? Think about how you would feel at home. If you feel stressed at home, you start to declutter and do a little spring cleaning. Start “spring cleaning” your work by brainstorming what is important to you. Would you be able to grow in that environment? Is there something you can do to help to declutter the stressful environment? Can you speak to your boss about it? If not, remember this quote by Alexander Den Heijer, “When a flower does not bloom, you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

My other friend interviewed with a major company and went into the interview excited. She felt this would be her way to a new job in new city with great salary. She was getting bored in her current city and felt a need for a change. Once she finished her three-hour interview, she felt confused. She didn’t feel like she fit in with the people interviewing her. She felt confused about the team structure and communication, two things very important to her. She felt that it was better for her to stay with her current company because the dynamic has improved a great deal in the last year. She would rather stay in her current position with her current salary than accepting a higher salary in a new place where she felt she could never feel at home.

Whenever I go into an interview, the number one question I make sure I ask is about the company culture. I spend so much time devoting my heart and soul into my career, spending time with my colleagues, I want to feel at home. This is important for every young job seeker to take note of. Where do you see yourself working? Even if you always dreamed of working at Vogue since you were a little girl or dreamed of working at the company that your family raves about, think about if it is right fit for YOU.

Even if you do get the job, you do have the option to decline. You do not need to accept every job offer that comes your way. Carefully consider if the company culture is right for you. Life is stressful already. Don’t let a difficult office environment add to the pressures of your daily life.

 

Your work environment becomes your second home. You spend your whole day there, sipping your coffee, eating lunch, and conversing with the same people every day. You grow up there in a way. You learn your mistakes, you hone your strengths, you identify your weaknesses, and you grow a thicker skin. You learn new technology and new etiquette as you meet new people every single day. The way you talk, act, sit, your verbal and body language are all molded by your surroundings. You want to be around a positive environment that makes you not only a better professional but a better person.

In my professional experience, I have encountered different types of company cultures. One culture may empower and invest in their employees while another culture bullies and manipulates their employees. In every scenario, I found that I look forward to the company culture that I would want to “come home” to as they are investing in me which in turn is investing in my future. I have turned down jobs from places where I used to work, despite being offered a higher salary. I did not enjoy their company culture.

Don’t pick the job for that higher salary, the title, the company association. Pick your new “second home.”

When you receive that new job offer, ask yourself, “Do I see myself coming home” to work every day?

Its 9 a.m. You are sipping your coffee. Feeling at home?

Lucy is the Director of Marketing and Career Development for Affordable College Prep. You can purchase her book, “Nine A.M. Coffee, Tea, or Snooze,” on Amazon.

 

Congratulations Graduate!

Mortorboard

Doc Seidman Says……

…….For college seniors, the month of May is something many have been waiting for.  The cold, blustery months of winter turn into the refreshing warmth of spring (except here in Florida), and college students throughout the country prepare to graduate. Graduation, or commencement, as it is called in academia, is an extraordinarily joyful time for students. And why not? They just spent the last four or so years sitting through tedious lectures, pretending to laugh at the professor’s boring jokes, and doing arduous class assignments. The thrill of walking across the commencement stage and throwing a mortarboard into the air in celebration is almost second to none. As a faculty member sitting in the audience, or as an administrator sitting on the stage, I, too was joyful and proud.

Some students learn the hard way that walking across the stage and celebrating with friends and family does not necessarily mean they have graduated. It simply means they have participated in the ceremony. The diploma comes sometime later, after the college has done its due diligence to make sure the graduation requirements have been fulfilled. It’s quite possible that there are students dressed in cap and gown, joyfully celebrating with their friends, who have yet to pass Statistics, or French, or Organic Chemistry, or Food Safety and Sanitation, or any other degree requirement. Don’t get too excited. It’s back to the classroom for you.

But for most everyone else, however, it is indeed a terrific accomplishment and a joyful time. It is something that will be with you forever and nobody can take away.

Unfortunately, many folks who start college don’t finish. In fact, recent statistics have shown that only 55% of four-year college students complete their degree within six years. At least 40% never graduate at all. If you are a student classified as a demographic minority, the chances of completing your college degree are even lower. Only thirty eight percent of African American students (46% of women and 35% of men) will complete their degree. Hispanic students do a bit better with a 46% completion rate. As a comparison, 62% of white students complete their degrees in six-years while Asian students perform the best with a 63% completion rate.

Are you the first in your family to go to college? Congratulations! But sadly, around half of you won’t finish. Do you come from a lower income family? Although government resources help, not having all the money you need is a significant hindrance as only 43% of you will graduate. Were you raised in a foster family? Your completion rate trails the entire field at only 14%.

There are many reasons for this. Money is perhaps the biggest one. Many underfunded students soon learn that they don’t have the resources to complete a four-year degree without an unwanted overwhelming debt burden. Many students get full and part time jobs while in college, but having multiple part-time jobs, or even just one full-time job, can be detrimental. The workplace culture soon supersedes the academic culture and next thing you know, classes are skipped, assignments are missed, and academic woes just pile on.

Since we are discussing money, not surprisingly, students attending private colleges have a better completion rate than their public-school counterparts (66% to 59%). Private schools, with a higher tuition and reduced class size, tend to be more nurturing. The professor may reach out to the students who seem to be fading away. Support services are more attentive too. The lines should be shorter to talk to whichever student support specialist is needed. It may not seem like much, but it helps.

The “For Profit” schools probably do more harm than good. For those of you, or someone you know, who is enticed by one of these heavily advertised universities, note that if you enroll, less than one in four of you will actually complete. They can also be expensive. Most “For Profits” make it easy to enroll and even easier borrow money. Whether or not you complete your degree, if you borrow money to  go there, or any other college, you need to pay it back. And if you fail to graduate and have a lot of debt….ouch! Not good.

Sorry to ruin the upcoming graduation party, but college can certainly be a case of “let the buyer beware.”  Whereas we would all like to think that attending college is certainly different than buying a used car, in many ways it is not. The buyer’s euphoria to find a good deal on a car might mask the deficiencies the used vehicle may have. It car might start out smoothly, but it is highly possible that as the years go on the flaws show themselves. And if you don’t thoroughly “check under the hood” before you buy it, the problems might arise more quickly.

Future college students and their families really need to “check under the hood” of the colleges they are considering attending. Check the graduation and retention rates. Investigate the advising systems in place. Kick the tires too while you are at it. Visit the campus. Talk to administrators and faculty. Make sure your future student will be well positioned to succeed and graduate. And perhaps most important, take a realistic view of the amount of debt that will be incurred. The truth may hurt, but a smart decision beforehand should help to prevent the pain of debt without graduation.

To the 50% or so that our truly graduating, all the best. Congratulations on your accomplishment. It’s a good one. Hopefully, the college taught you how to make smart decisions. Something that will serve you well in the years to come.