This story is sponsored by StepUp to Higher Education. Learn more about StepUp to Higher Education.

Deciding where to go to college can feel like the biggest choice you’ve ever had to make. And with so many options available, the choice can seem overwhelming. The decision process doesn’t need to be daunting, though. It can even be fun and exciting for both students and parents! As you get ready to apply for college, ask yourself these questions:

1. What is your dream job?

Think about your interests and talents. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Which subjects in school are your favorite? Figuring out the answers to these questions can go a long way in helping you decide on a college major or program.

If you need help getting started, take the interest and career assessments at UtahFutures. These assessments can direct you to potential career choices and educational areas that match with your natural talents. Once you have an idea of what you want to study, you can look to see which colleges offer that major or program. Utah colleges and universities offer a wide selection of majors.

2. What kind of degree will get you to your dream job?

Different careers require different levels of education. Does your dream job require a one-year certificate, two-year degree, four-year degree, or more?

Are you thinking about becoming a teacher? That requires a four-year degree. If you want to be a lawyer or doctor that will take even more schooling. Some careers like diesel mechanic require a one-year certificate. The tools from UtahFutures can help you understand the kind of education required for the career you want.

3. What type of college campus best suits you?

Do you want to go somewhere close to home or far away? Big city or small town? Small college or large university? Live in the dorms or off campus? What fun college opportunities are you interested in: study abroad, student government, intramural sports or internships?

Luckily, Utah has many different colleges available in the state that offer a variety of academic and extracurricular programs.

One of the best things you can do to see if a college is right for you is to visit the campus. Each school will have slightly different activities and resources and a tour will help you figure out which fit is best for you. Universities and colleges in Utah offer clubs, volunteer opportunities, lectures, on-campus employment, fitness facilities, concerts, plays, and more!

Contact the admissions office at the colleges you want to visit to set up a guided tour.

4. What advice do your family, friends, and community have for you about college?

Ask your family and friends, neighbors, teachers, and school counselors what they liked about college, what they found challenging and what advice they can give you. These people know you, so their recommendations and advice can be tailored to you specifically.

5. How much does the college cost?

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Money can be a stressful topic, especially when the cost of college seems so high. As you look at which colleges to apply to, remember not all colleges cost the same and there are a variety of ways to cut the cost of college and save money.

The most important thing you can do is submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). That is the only way to receive federal financial aid for college. If you don’t submit your FAFSA, you might be missing out on money for college. The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal financial aids (grants, work-study, and student loans) as well as aid from the state and the college you choose to go to.

In the end, deciding what college to attend comes down to you, your goals, what you want to accomplish, and what is important to you. Choosing a college is a big decision, but the more research you put into picking a college, the better your choice will be!

StepUp to Higher Education is an outreach initiative of the State of Utah that empowers 8th through 12th-grade students and their families to prepare for college. StepUp believes every Utah student should pursue education after high school, whether that be a one-year certificate, two-year degree, four-year degree, or more. StepUp provides programs and resources to encourage college preparation and success, as well as training and materials for school counselors.

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