The high-schooler's guide to selecting the right college

For a teenager, selecting the right college can be an intimidating process. With so many college choices, young people will often choose based on where friends are attending or the college's reputation. Since Metro Tech has more than 700 full-time high school students, we know a thing or two about the daunting task of post high-school planning.

Metro Tech Biomedical Sciences Academy Teacher Sabrina Conlee has more than eight years of experience advising seniors on college selection. Each year, college selection is built into her classroom curriculum as most of her students are college bound. In 2016 alone, every high school senior in her program received college acceptance letters, so we asked her to share helpful hints she uses to guide the students in her class. 

Which factors should a high school student take into consideration when choosing a college?

Class size is one of the biggest factors students need to consider. If you do not mind being in a college algebra (or any other freshman/sophomore) class with 250-300 other students then you can pick a bigger school, but if you're a person that needs more one-on-one contact then I suggest looking at smaller schools. Another factor students need to consider are professional opportunities offered by the college. For instance, if you are considering a science major then you would look for a college that has a well developed undergraduate research program. Last, students needs to consider the social opportunities available on campus. Campus student organizations are a great way to network with individuals with similar interests and studies. 

What is the biggest mistake students make when choosing a college?

Choosing the college based solely on reputation is a mistake students make. Just because the college is big and well-known doesn't mean it's the best fit for you or your goals. I also advise students against choosing a college because it's where all their friends are attending. Sometimes it's good to be different than everyone else. 

What is your best advice for students beginning high school that plan to attend college when they finish?

Start college tours your freshman year and get to know the recruiters at those schools. Ask to sit in on a class in the area you want to study. Look for summer opportunities that will help you develop skills in the career field you want to pursue. Look into CareerTech training during high school to give you hands-on experience in a career field of interest. Start looking for scholarships and other opportunities that could help fund your college education.

Start taking the ACT at the end of your sophomore year. The last time you can take the ACT for college applications is in October of your senior year. 

Speaking of scholarships, what is the best resource for students to locate scholarships?

One website I send my students to is fastweb.com. Other online resources include: Oklahoma City Foundation, College Board (this is the governing body for Advance Placement classes), Career and Technology Education Student Organizations. 

Sabrina Conlee once dreamed of a career as a medical doctor. When that plan didn't pan out, she combined that dream with a love of teaching to launch the Biomedical Sciences Academy for high school students at Metro Tech in 2008. She has helped countless seniors receive lucrative college scholarships and 96% of students from her program are accepted to college. She can be reached at sabrina.conlee@metrotech.edu