Choosing Where to Study

In addition to thinking about what type of school to go to, you also have to think about which specific school to attend. Major issues to consider include:

  • How much does the school cost?
  • Where is the school located?
  • Is the school accessible for people with disabilities like yours?
  • What areas of study does the school offer?
  • How academically rigorous are the classes?
  • How does getting a degree from this school impact your future employment?
  • What’s the campus culture like?
Visit different schools

One of the best things you can do is visit different schools to see what they are like. Start with one that’s near your home. Go and see the campus. Visit the disability student services office to learn how your disability needs would be met. Talk to students at the school to hear what they think. Then go and visit a few other schools that are different — like a small private college, a large public university, and a community college. By learning more about your options, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.

Financial Impact

Most high schools are free, but after high school, you will have to pay for your education. The price can range from less than $1,000 per year at community colleges to more than $50,000 per year at some private colleges.

This may make you think that you should only consider community colleges. After all, who could possibly afford the $200,000 it would take to graduate from some private colleges? But colleges offer financial aid and often will not charge you their full price. So don’t just assume you can afford some colleges but not others.

You should apply to the schools that are the best fit for you, regardless of price. If those schools are expensive, you should also apply to more affordable schools, in case the expensive schools don’t offer you adequate financial aid. You may also be able to get the Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) to pay for some or all of your education expenses.

Financial aid and education funding through VR are covered in more detail on the Funding Your Education page.

Location

Where do you want to go to school? Do you want to be near your family or far away? Do you want to live in a campus dorm, an apartment, or with your family? Do you want to be in a big city or a smaller town? Do you want to live in Missouri or another state? What type of weather do you like? These are all important questions and you can probably think of many others. Make a list of the priorities you have for where you want to go to school. That will help you decide what is important when making your choices.

Accessibility

You need to make sure that the buildings and facilities at a school are accessible for you, so that you can go to and participate in class, complete assignments, take tests, and do extracurricular activities. The reality is that no school is perfectly accessible. When you apply to different schools, visit them to get an idea about whether they will be accessible for you. You should also contact their disabled student services offices to see what accessibility information they have about the school.

Talk to people

Don’t try to decide what school to go to by yourself. Talking to other people is one of the best ways to learn about schools. If you are in high school, your college counselor can give you a lot of information. If you have friends who are already in college, ask them about why they chose their college and whether they like it. If you want to know about a college, but you don’t know anybody attending that school, call their admissions department. They’ll be able to help you find students who can tell you about their experience. You can also try to contact the disabled student group on campus to get their opinions.

Your Interests and the Areas of Study

What you want to study could help you decide what school you want to attend. For example, if you are an artist, you might look for a school that focuses on art. Or, if you like science, you might look for a college that specializes in the sciences. If you don’t know what you want to study, don’t worry! Most schools offer a broad range of classes and they even require you to sample all different sorts of topics so that you can discover what you like. However, having the things you are interested in and the areas of study that the school offers overlap is a good idea.

Academics

Different schools have different academic standards. Depending on your high school grades, test scores, and prerequisites, some schools may not accept you. Some have strict course requirements, while others are more flexible about what you study. Some have hundreds of students in each class, while others have less than a dozen students per class. When you are thinking about different schools, take these things into account, because they will impact your happiness and your level of success.

Future Employment Impact

Getting an education will make it easier to get a job, no matter what your career choice is. Potential employers will see that you dedicated yourself, worked hard, and succeeded in an environment which requires a great deal of self-motivation and discipline.

However, the school you choose to attend may impact what type of job you end up getting. If you go to a technical school, you will be well prepared for certain professions. If you go to a 4-year college, you’ll be able to get jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. If your 4-year college specializes in certain fields, you’ll have a better chance at employment in those fields.

If you know what field you wish to work in in the future, make sure you consider that when you choose a school. At the same time, you should make sure that if you change your mind later, the school has other options.

Campus Culture

Campus culture includes many factors not discussed above. For instance, some schools are known as “party schools.” Others are more religious, and some schools are known for being politically active. Sororities and fraternities are an important part of student life at some colleges, while others don’t even allow them.

Campus culture may seem like a secondary consideration, but it is very important. Especially if you are leaving the place you grew up in and choose to live on campus, this will be a major time of change in your social life. When you begin school, you’ll know almost nobody, and so this will directly impact how you make friends and what sorts of friends you make. The best way to really learn about a school’s campus culture is to visit and talk with students.