>> Narrator:
Welcome to Waubonsee talks, Waubonsee Community College's online forum where we discuss important topics for your academic journey.

>> Steven Miller:
Welcome to the Waubonsee podcast, where we're gonna be talking about some topics that are important to anyone considering our college. Today's topic is going to be how to choose a college, and with us today we have Robert Cook and Kristen Santillan. We'll have both you to introduce yourselves, Robert.

>> Robert Cook:
Hello I'm Robert Cook, I'm the TRIO Upward Bound manager here at Waubonsee Community College and currently working with high school students at East Aurora High School and West Aurora High School.

>> Steven Miller:
Kristen.

>> Kristen Santillan:
My name is Kristen Santillan and I'm one of the counselors here Waubonsee Community College. And I currently work with our current students and help them with academic, transfer, a variety of different issues that they have.

>> Steven Miller:
Okay, Robert, first to you, you work with high school students a fair amount, when high school students, or their parents, whoever you talk to most, when they think about college, what are they thinking about? What concerns do they have? What questions might they have at this time?

>> Robert Cook:
Great question, I think today's high school students are pretty savvy, one of the first things they're thinking about is cost. How are they gonna afford their college education?

How are they gonna be able to pay for school and so forth? I think next they're looking at location, where is the school? The relation and distance from home, the type of campus they're on, the size of the campus, and so forth. They're also looking at the culture of campus.

With the advent of social media, students are a bit more aware of things that are going on different campuses. They're in contact with some of their classmates or peers that graduated a year or two years before them and involved at some of those different schools. So, a lot of different things that students are aware of and thinking about when they're considering what institution to attend.

>> Steven Miller:
Good, okay, well, hopefully we can answer some of those questions today as we go along here. Kristen, from your experience, what are the top few things that people should be thinking about or consider when they're looking at colleges?

>> Kristen Santillan:
I absolutely agree with Robert. Cost, I think is a huge concern for many people, something you definitely wanna consider. But in addition to that, students really wanna keep in mind what their goals are. I think that's something really important to consider when they're thinking about schools. In addition to that, what opportunities are available for students outside of the classroom to help them explore and expand on the skills that they are developing in the classroom. Obviously, location. And then I think the other big piece that's really key is for students to take the time to visit and speak with people at the different schools that they're considering.

>> Steven Miller:
So okay, that's good. That's a good list. So, we'll just take a closer look at some of these. So is there a particular order students should be thinking about these things, obviously cost is a factor, Robert mentioned, cost is a factor, but should that be the first thing they think about versus what their personal interests are or it all things together? How do you recommend someone think about the sequence of thinking about these things?

>> Kristen Santillan:
I think they go hand in hand. I think you want to certainly keep costs in mind, but it also is really dependent on what your goals are. If your goals are to go way to school and the school you're thinking about has a lot of opportunities and those opportunities are going to help you meet maybe your career goals. And the cost of that institution is a little bit higher, maybe the opportunities that come with that are something that are important and something that you want to consider. And maybe it's worth those additional costs. So to me, those pieces can really go hand in hand for a student.

>> Steven Miller:
So, you mentioned also goals. And Robert, you may know more about this for the high school age students. Are there tools available to you, like personality tests or resources available to help folks really define what their goals and interests are as it relates to going to college? Is there anything like this that either of you are familiar with?

>> Robert Cook:
Yeah, there's a lot of different tools and instruments that students can use to identify what they wanna do when they're pursuing an institution and what they wanna do after graduation and so forth. One of the best resources I encourage students to talk to is their advisor at their high school, where they have a college and career center or any type of college counselor at their school. And from there, there's some different online tools that students can use. A really good resources is the college scorecard from the US Department of Education, collegescorecard.ed.gov. Which allows students to search for and compare different colleges institutions. They can really dive deep into them and start looking by the different programs and degrees, locations, sites, as well as different specializations. Whether it's Hispanic-serving institutions or historically black college and universities. The other place I encourage students to look at is isac.org. So, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, who is in Illinois, coordinates our financial aid. So, they have some really good tools to help students look at financial aid and how they're gonna pay for their education. And also, we can link them to the ISI corps members who are individuals, recent grads throughout the Illinois in the community college districts who can offer students and their families assistance at picking colleges and universities, applying for scholarships. And essentially everything through that college admissions process.

>> Steven Miller:
Nice, nice, Kristen, you have any other any other thoughts on tools that are that help shape this decision?

>> Kristen Santillan:
Yeah, College Board actually has some really nice resources on their website, some checklists, especially for students who know they wanna continue their education but they feel really lost. They're having a difficult time maybe trying to identify their goals, their wants. They have some really nice short checklists to help students kinda organize their thoughts and maybe generate some ideas. For students who are considering transferring, maybe coming to a community college then transferring, the itransfer.org has a lot of wonderful resources as well for students.

>> Steven Miller:
Nice, nice, Kristen, you mentioned something about opportunities and considering which college you go to. You mentioned opportunities to explore skills and things outside the classroom. What comes to my mind are things like internships and things like this?

Is that a good example or there are other things in addition to that? What kind of opportunities should students be looking at outside the classroom?

>> Kristen Santillan:
Absolutely, internships are one such opportunity. But sometimes students don't get the opportunity for internship well into their later years in school. So even opportunities to participate and study abroad. Opportunities to participate in honors projects.

Research, being part of research team at the professor. Different clubs are on campus. Start to develop those skills, especially those soft skills that a lot of employers are really looking for. And to really start build that resume. Volunteer opportunities, service learning opportunities. More and more colleges are just really increasing the opportunities for students to get involved outside of the classroom and to build really nice skills that will be definitely used later on.

>> Steven Miller:
As you were talking I just thought of something else or question you may be able to answer Robert, high school today probably have some of these kinds of experiences as well. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Are there things that high school students are involved in today that maybe they could extend and these kind of similar experiences outside the classroom? Both in high school and then transfer well into college depending on if they're interested in? Or they could they choose a college in part based on those kinds of skills and interests outside the classroom?

>> Robert Cook:
Yeah, definitely, especially for students who are in different leadership roles at their school student council. If they're involved in different honor societies or different other type of clubs, organizations, even JR ROTC type of organizations. The skills and things that they're doing in those clubs are definitely transferable to organizations on campus and so forth at their school, the college that they choose to attend. And that's the other piece. I definitely encourage students to get involved and be present when they're at their college. Particularly that first week on campus. Most schools will have different back to school events or different orientation events. I really encourage students to go to those different events because they'll get a chance to learn more about different things that are going on campus, opportunities for them to get involved, and even maybe things that they weren't even aware of. So, I really want students to take advantage of their learning opportunities outside of the classroom by being involved.

>> Steven Miller:
And you just mentioned something they're not even aware of. You mentioned earlier about while they're in high school talking to their advisor or counselor. And I would imagine those advisors are counselors or at least aware of the opportunities in area colleges and can point them to based on their interests and experiences in high school. And point them towards college options and opportunities that match them.

>> Robert Cook:
Definitely, talking to the advisors at their high school, as well as reaching out to the advisors at the college that they're thinking about. Many students are on different social media platforms, and pretty much most of the institutions have social media presence and so forth. So, I encourage students to like those Facebook pages, get a chance to interact with the college reps and so forth. And talk to them about the institution they're looking at. As well as different college fairs are really important. Locally at Waubonsee, there's a Waubonsee College Night that's held each year, as well as National College Fair in Chicago. So those are great opportunities for students to interact one-on-one, face-to-face with college reps and get information about the different schools.

>> Steven Miller:
Sure, good, Kristen, many other things you mentioned, one of my favorite parts about where we're at here in the western suburbs of Chicago is location. The fact that there's urban, there's rural and we are Waubonsee. And with Waubonsee, we have campuses in downtown Aurora and in Plano and here in Sugar Grove. How does that factor into decision-making? Whether it's students choosing Waubonsee or a four-year university, how can the difference between a urban or rural or any other big school, small school, how can that shape decision-making?

>> Kristen Santillan:
Sure, and it is. It is an important factor for students to consider. And it does kind of relate back to what that student's school is. If a student really wants to have that experience of living away from home, being a part of a campus community, they wanna take a look at that. What is that relationship between the college and the surrounding community that they're in? They're living away from home, are there opportunities for them to maybe get off campus and have access to different community resources, services, things along those lines?

What's the cost of living if they're, again, living of off campus? What is that cost to live in downtown Chicago? What is it cost versus to go to school and maybe a more small, rural institution, things along those lines?

>> Kristen Santillan:
If you're away from home, how far away do you wanna be? For many students, the appeal to be far away from home is really huge. But the reality is, if you want to have that opportunity to come home on the weekends, is that actually possible if you're maybe six, seven hours away? If you are further away, things to consider would be transportation.

Are there opportunities for you to easily get on bus, train, airplane to get home for the weekend, for breaks, and things along those lines? So, there's a variety of things to consider for some people who don't want to live on campus. What does the commute time look like? Traffic, ability to park. Some of those other pieces or other things to really consider and can really impact a student's experience.

>> Steven Miller:
Well, not just the experience, but we're talking really about cost. And all these things factor in to not just the experience, but the cost of it and a lot of other things, so good.

Robert, have anything to add to that.

>> Kristen Santillan:
Yeah, I think it's also important for students to visit the campus. And more importantly, visit it multiple times at different times of the year. Because a campus at a point in the summer might look completely different than it would in the fall or the spring semester.

So, it's important for students to visit campus multiple times at different points throughout the year. As well as to research that school and look it online, at some of the different options that the college has so that they're a little bit more familiar with that campus that they're looking at.

>> Steven Miller:
Great points, so one more question here for both of you. You mentioned advisors and counselors at high school and you work in that capacity here at Waubonsee.

What are some things that a student, whether it's a high school student or an adult returning to college, when they make those visits, if they meet with someone, what should they be asking?

What types of questions should they be thinking about and things they should be looking for while they're on these colleges? So, Kristen, we'll start with you.

>> Kristen Santillan:
I tell students, what are the impressions they're getting on that visit?

Does the campus feel welcoming? Are the people there happy to see them? What opportunity or access do they have two different support services on campus? Are they easy to access?

Those are all really key things. Looking at the size of the school facilities. If you're going into a highly technical area, do they have the resources to really help you support you with your skill building. That experience of going and visiting is so powerful. And I think that gut instinct, that gut reaction, is really huge in helping form that decision.

>> Robert Cook:
Yeah, very much. So I think how you ask, something's that more important, as well as what you're asking. So, I encourage students to ask open-ended questions, tell me about this program. What resources do you have to help me be successful in college? Or ask, how can you help me afford my education at your institution? As well as asking questions to the admissions professionals. On the campus tour, talk to students. Usually, you have a campus tour guide that's there with you, ask them, tell me about your experience here? So, it's really important for students to ask open-ended questions to get some information about the school.

And take notes. Because particularly, you're visiting different college universities. You wanna be able to recall and remember some of the things that were important to you on those visits later on as you're comparing different institutions.

>> Steven Miller:
Good, well, I think that covers a lot of material here and great information.

Robert and Kristen, thank you for your time today. And we look forward to more conversations about the college experience in the future. So, thank you both.

>> Kristen Santillan:
Thank you.

>> Robert Cook:
Thank you.

>> Narrator:
Thanks for listening to Waubonsee talks. For additional information, please visit waubonsee.edu. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to learn more about how Waubonsee Community College can help you reach your goals.