Deciding to go to college is a big decision and one that you should be proud of! Once you’ve made that decision, it’s time to decide which college is right for you. Many factors can influence your decision, like location, size, cost, and programs offered. Consider the following to pick the right college for you.
- Finding a major – Are you passionate about improving the health of your community? What about preserving the lives of animals? Whatever your passions are, they should be the main drivers of your educational choice. To find your passions, answer these easy questions:
- Why am I going to college?
- What are my talents?
- Where do I want to be in 5 years? How about in 10 years?
- What areas of my life do I want to change?
- What do I want out of life?
Once you’ve answered these questions, research colleges that offer majors related to your interests and passions.
- A sense of belonging – Whether you’re considering attending a college outside of your area or within a short drive, being in an environment that honors your heritage and identity might be an important factor for you. Check if the college you’re thinking about attending has the following:
- Native students on campus. Typically, you can find out how many Native students are on a campus by looking at the “demographics” or “diversity” sections of a particular college’s website. You can also reach out to an admissions counselor from that college and ask about the Native population on their campus.
- Native student center on campus. A Native American student center will connect you with other Native students, keep you updated with Native-related events on campus, and can be a study spot!
- Native faculty, staff, and/or a Native American studies department. Finding Native professionals or allies on campus, such as those working in the Native American studies department, will allow you to be mentored and guided throughout your college journey.
- Native student organizations on campus. Being involved on campus is fun! You’re always in the know of what’s happening. Membership in a Native student organization can help you become active on campus, feel connected to home, raise awareness about Native social issues, and allow you to meet relatives!
- Scholarships, tuition waivers, and in-state tuition for Native students – Paying for college might seem difficult. But some colleges offer Native American scholarships! Check the colleges you’re interested in to find out if they offer these scholarships. You should also check with your Tribe’s education center, if there is one, and ask if they offer college scholarships. Certain states also offer Native American tuition waivers for public universities. Other state colleges offer in-state tuition for Native American students, regardless if you’re a resident of their state or not. Keep your eye out for these as you research colleges you’re interested in!
Picking the right college for you is fun, exciting, and can be a little nerve-wracking. As you make your decision, consider checking out these resources for picking the right college and funding opportunities:
- Ask Uncle – Embarrassed about going to community college
- Ask Auntie – How do I save for college?
- Ask Auntie – College, Financial Aid
- Choosing a college
- Top Ten Things Native American Students Should Consider When Choosing a College
- Native Pathways | A College-Going Guidebook
Acknowledgment: The information provided in this article was gathered from the American Indian College Fund, an organization that invests in Native students and college education to transform lives and communities.
Author: Stephanie Paz is a Tigua Indian of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso and is working towards a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from New Mexico State University.