By Alexis Dancer
There are a lot of options out there for newly high school graduates and adults returning to college, what things should you consider when deciding where to go? The first thing any student should look at when considering a college is the cost of their tuition as well as the financial aid and scholarships that school has to offer. Skagit Valley College’s tuition and fees page says that students can be on a payment plan, allowing them to put down only 40% of tuition at the beginning of the term. It then gives them another month to pay the rest, along with a $30 processing fee. Other colleges offer this as well, however, community colleges have been proven to cost less in tuition than universities. The National Society of High School Scholars said, “To put it into perspective, community college tuition can be as little as around $3,500 per year, compared to up to around $35,000 for out of-state-students attending a public university”. Yes these costs will vary as different students get different financial aid, scholarships, or have to pay extra school fees. You can still get a good education at a community college for less and have more time to save money for when you go to a university.
At Skagit Valley College they, like many others, have credits transferrable to certain universities, which is another good thing to look at next. Some colleges may have special requirements or make it so you have to go to a university they have a deal with in order for all of your credits to transfer. Skagit has an assortment of universities you can go to and a team of counselors to help guide you throughout your two years, so you know where you want to go next. Many students may not know what they want to study at first, the counselors are assigned to students and make appointments with you to help guide you through it. They also require a class for all new students to take that helps them get comfortable with the campus, the website, and how to figure out your education plan. It’s important to think about what you’re doing now, but also focus on where you will be at the end of these two years. Community college can go by quick and it’s good to pass along any information that can help students prepare ahead of time.
Skagit also offers many options for degrees and certificates. They cater to people of all ages, graduates, adults, and even current high school students. They include high school programs which could allow students to potentially graduate high school with an associate degree that the high school helps pay for. It’s really a win, win situation if you work hard and start early. There are clubs and acts put in place to ensure diversity with everyone and no racism on or near campus. They also encourage international students to apply as the student housing is nearby and the school is in a safer location of Mount Vernon. With a range of degrees available, they hope to attract more students and in the end, save them money in tuition while they aren’t attending a university right out of high school.
Another thing that the college offers is plenty of activities. These include De-stress Week, the Evan Wecksell show, Grocery Bingo, the Mardi Gras Dinner, the Murder Mystery Dinner, and last but not least, the annual Cardinal Day as their activities site says. It’s a fun way to help kids relax and meet new people who might become future friends. The student club members staff are doing what they can to make things fun always, but especially through the pandemic. Some professors, such as Jennifer McFarland, a Chemistry teacher at the college, do daily zoom conferences to act as if they were in class with the students. She also uploads them so all students can view as most are working full time, but it lets all of the students interact and see each other which helps when you have to social distance. At the end of the day, they are doing whatever they can to help students get ahead in life, from saving you money with lower tuition, to fundraising for more activities. With a good staffing system and the motivation to continue making it a fun place for students, with amazing views by the way, many students are going to keep enjoying this place and hopefully new ones will come in as well. They want to provide a small town atmosphere that pushes students to grow. With the pandemic hitting it’s harder now to figure everything out, but counselors and staff have made time to help students navigate through that as well and figure out what adjustments may have to be made.