Making YOUR College Choice

How do you choose where to go to college? First you need to figure out what you are looking for in a college. Then you can think about what school is right for you.


Picking A College

There are 3,901 colleges and universities in the United States and 21 of them are within a short distance of the city of Rochester. How do I choose?

There are lots of factors that you should consider when choosing which colleges to apply to and everyone picks in different ways. These are some of the common things people think about:

  • Two vs. Four Years
    College can be two years, four years, or even less if you are seeking a professional certification. Two-year colleges award associate's degrees and certifications for specific careers. Two-year colleges can also serve as the first two years of a four-year degree — MCC and other community colleges have 2 plus 2 programs which help students move to a four-year degree program. Degrees earned at four-year colleges are the standard preparation for professions such as law, medicine, dentistry and engineering and many other careers such as banking, accounting and advertising.
  • Public vs. Private
    Public schools — community colleges and state colleges and universities — receive most of their funding through tax dollars. Some universities such as Cornell University have public and private colleges with different tuition rates. Public schools generally have lower tuition costs than private schools, which receive most of their funding from sources other public funds. Although tuition for private schools is generally higher, students should not rule out private, also called independent, schools which have many benefits to offer. For more information, click here to read about the Independent College Option.
  • Location
    Most students from Rochester choose from the great selection of colleges we have here in Monroe County — Monroe Community College, RIT, University of Rochester and The College at Brockport - SUNY . Others like to get a little further from home by going out of state or elsewhere around New York. If you are the kind of person who likes a new experience, a fresh start, or wants to get away from Rochester winters, a college a little farther away from home might be right up your alley.
  • Cost
    Public and private colleges can be more affordable than students often think. Financial Aid distributed to students by the Department of Education assists many students to cover the cost of their education. Check out our Financial Aid page to learn how to make college an affordable option.
  • Size
    • Colleges range from the size of your high school to the size of small cities. There are definite advantages to all sizes of college. Some students prefer the cozy setting of a small college. Keuka College, for example, has under 2000 students. On a small campus, students can easily get more involved in activities and take a leadership role. Classes tend to be smaller and professors can be more easily accessible.
    • Other students enjoy the atmosphere at a large school such as the University at Buffalo where there are almost 20,000 students. Large schools can offer a broader range of activities such as concerts and sporting events, a wider range of academic programs, a more diverse student body, and some anonymity that you just can't get at a small school. Larger schools tend to have bigger class sizes during your first couple years before you dive in to your major classes. On the other hand, some students get overwhelmed at large schools and find it hard to focus on academics.
    • Like a little bit of both? Try something in the middle! Colleges like the University of Rochester (9,000 students) or The College at Brockport (8,000 students) offer a little of both worlds.
  • Programs Offered
    Colleges, like people, have different specialties. Make sure that your college has the academic programs that interest you. Some students enter college knowing what they want to study, education or criminology for example. Other students get to college thinking they know what they want to study and change their mind once they start studying. There are a lot of great resources online devoted to helping you choose a career path:

Still confused? Visit!
Setting up a campus visit will give you the best idea of whether a school is right for you. You can contact the admissions office of schools directly to set up a visit on your own or talk to your counselor at school to see if there are any school trips to colleges coming up. Many colleges offer open houses so applicants can meet other prospective students and even overnight stays on campus so that you can get a real sense of what college life there is like. These are great opportunities to really connect with a college and discover if it is right for you.


What are some options for local or area colleges?

Many students and parents see value in attending college close to home. If location is important, we have a list of area colleges to help you see which schools are close to Rochester.


Wait, How Much Does College Cost?

In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2013-2014 academic year averaged $22,826. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $44,750.

But what does all that money pay for??

  • Tuition
    Tuition is what the college charges a student for the instruction they provide. The cost varies, but most colleges charge a student by the number of credits they sign up for each semester. Here are some examples:
    • Monroe Community College charges $1,708 per semester for 12-18 credit hours
    • The University of Rochester charges $23,075 per semester for 12-20 credit hours
    • Rochester Institute of Technology charges $17,628 per semester for 12-18 credit hours
    • Nazareth College charges $14,622 per semester for 12-17 credit hours
    • St. John Fisher charges $14,485 per semester for 12-19 credit hours
    • SUNY Geneseo charges $3,085 per semester for 12 credit hours or more
    As you can see, some colleges are much more expensive than others.
  • Fees
    Fees cover a wide-range of services and can include health insurance, housing, activities, orientation, equipment rental, lab access or post office use. In general, fees are costs from the college that each student must pay, above the cost of tuition. They vary from college to college and can range from $500 and exceed $5,000. When searching for colleges, tuition and fees are often combined into an estimated cost. Check with your admissions or school counselor if you have questions about these costs.
  • Housing and Meal Plan
    Some colleges require full-time students to select a housing option and meal plan when they are accepted. Many colleges offer students on-campus housing options which include dormitory or apartment style living. The cost of living on campus can be high—Nazareth College Room and Board costs range from $3,459 for a double room to $4,741 for an apartment room. Aside from housing, eating on-campus is easier than getting transportation to a grocery store and less expensive than dining out. One way to save money is to live off campus. However, many colleges require freshmen to live on campus so they experience the full benefits of college life.
  • Books and Supplies
    The cost of college textbooks is much higher than a normal book. It is not uncommon to pay $100 or even $300 for a single textbook. Some colleges will allow students to borrow copies of textbooks from the library and others will use older editions or even allow students to rent copies from the bookstore. Regardless, the cost of college textbooks can skyrocket quickly. It is important to include these expenses in your total college cost. Many students forget the cost of books and underestimate their total expenses by more than a thousand dollars. Be sure to include and perhaps overestimate the cost of books when making a college cost estimate.

A great tool for estimating how much money you will need for your college education is called a Net Price Calculator. Every college has one that will provide you with an approximation of how much the college costs and how much financial assistance you can expect to get. You can find the Net Price Calculator for any college in the country by visiting the U.S. government Department of Education website.

For detailed information on financial aid, please check out our Financial Aid page.