A High Schooler's Guide: College

There are only 61 days until May 1, National College Decision Day. Seniors, now is the time when pressure is on to find that perfect school for you. If you’re a junior or a very ambitious underclassman, you’ll need to start looking too because before you know, you’ll get the dreaded question, “What are your plans for after high school?”

There are many things to consider when looking at a school, like size, price, how far away it is, requirements, how likely you are to get in, and, most importantly, if you like it and can imagine yourself there.

The first step in looking for a college: big or small? Do you want something small like a community college, medium like University of Northern Iowa, or a big school like University of Iowa and Iowa State University? At a medium or big school, most of your general education classes will be in huge lecture halls and have hundreds of students, but at a community college, the classes will be like the size of a class in high school.

Secondly, the price of a college can be a real dealbreaker. A community college will be the cheapest choice and an out-of-state school will be the most expensive option. No matter where you go, you should always try to apply for as many scholarships as you can to lower the cost.

Thirdly, how far away a school is can be an extremely important factor. If you don’t care about how far away you end up from home, then there’s no limit to where you go. If you want to be able to come home other times than just when you’re on break, then a school three or fewer hours away would be better for you.

Fourthly, you always need to know the requirements for a school that you may want to attend. Luckily, the graduation requirements at the high school are very similar to the requirements for getting into Iowa State, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa. Some of the colleges inside of the universities have different requirements to get into them so make sure you always check what you need to get into somewhere before you apply. When applying to an out of state school, the requirements can be very different from the Iowa schools. For a more in-depth list of requirements for the in-state schools, see below.

One of the most important things to look at is how likely you are to get into the school. When thinking about a school, take a look at the average GPA and ACT scores of the most recent freshman class. This will give you an idea of how well you would fit in based on your own statistics. The three public Iowa universities use the Regent Admission Index to calculate your admission, and all you need is a 245 for automatic acceptance. The schools take your ACT or SAT score, high school rank, high school GPA, and the amount of core classes you’ve taken. The easiest way to raise your RAI score is to take more core classes like science, math, English, and social studies.

Last, but not least, the most important thing is if you like the school and can imagine yourself there. The best way to figure out if you like a school or not is to go on a visit there. Take a look at the buildings with classes, dorms, libraries, gyms, and anything else that interests you. If you go on a college visit, get there, and then automatically hate being there, then that school probably isn’t for you.

One thing that isn’t too important: who is going. If you choose a school based on your friends or significant other, you might really regret where you end up. You should pick the school because it feels like the best place for you; a place where you can happily grow and improve your knowledge.


  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter App Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Snapchat Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • email logo