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Consumer Information > FAQ about College

Some Common Questions and Answers about College
  • Is college only for unusually bright or creative people?
    Not necessarily. College students are not always more intellectually gifted than others. Most college students are perfectly ordinary people in terms of memory, attention span, mathematical understanding, comprehension of concepts, and other abilities. How they differ from others is in their desire and willingness to stretch their minds and exercise their mental abilities by enrolling in college.

  • Does it take a lot of money to go to college?
    The cost of a college education is rising, but there are still relatively inexpensive ways to get a college degree. Community colleges are subsidized by state and local taxes, so tuition and fees are relatively low. State universities receive a subsidy from state government to help students complete a bachelor, master’s and, in some cases, a doctoral degree.

    Independent (private) colleges and universities commonly have higher tuition costs than community colleges and state universities, but they also have private sources of financial aid to help offset the costs that students must pay.

    In addition, the state funds one of the most generous financial assistance programs – the Monetary Award Program – in the nation to help low-income students and families cover college costs.

  • So, if you want to continue your education, colleges and universities make every effort to make it possible. More information on financial assistance can be obtained from College Zone.

  • Do you have to be young to go to college?
    Regardless of your age, you will have plenty of company at Illinois colleges and universities. In Illinois, only about half of undergraduate students are below the age of 22; about half of the graduate students in Illinois are 30 or older. Adult students with jobs and families often enroll in college to start or complete a degree program, upgrade skills, or obtain some coursework or certification that will help them advance in their careers.

  • Do you have to study a lot in college?
    It depends. Your academic preparation, your course of study, even the particular professor you have are among the factors that influence your workload and the amount of time you need to devote to studying. If you attend college full-time, think of it as a full-time job that you must work at week-in, week-out. Learning takes the same, if not more, commitment than a full-time job. Attending college part time usually means adding study time to other responsibilities in your life. A general rule of thumb is that it takes about two hours of study outside of class for each hour spent in class during a week.

    During your college years, you’re paying and not always earning, but the time and effort you put in for your degree are investments in preparing you for a career that will pay off many times over during your lifetime of employment.

  • Does it take a long time to complete a college program?
    Typically it takes two to three years to earn an associate degree and four to five years to earn a bachelor’s degree. Lots of variables (such as choosing to change majors or taking courses that don’t count toward your degree) play into how long it will take to complete a college degree. Many community colleges also offer short certificate programs in vocational and technical fields that can be completed in less than two full-time years and give you a marketable skill.

    If you attend part time, it will take longer to get your degree. And, although half-time students can receive certain types of financial aid, there may be other difficulties with financial aid if you study part-time. You want to be careful not to use up your eligibility for financial aid by taking classes that won’t count toward the degree you want to earn. It is best, when attending college part-time, to take as many courses as your time and circumstances allow so that you can complete degree requirements more quickly.

  • Do you have to pass an entrance examination?
    State universities and independent institutions usually require standardized examinations such as the American College Testing (ACT) test or Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) for admission. This is not necessarily true of community colleges (although they may ask you to take placement tests in subjects like English and mathematics). Community colleges welcome all applicants and place them in programs where they can best benefit while they decide what they wish to study. If you complete your first two years of college work toward a bachelor’s degree at a community college, your courses should transfer to a four-year college or university without requiring you to take an entrance examinations.

  • Do you have to know what you want to study before enrolling?
    You don’t necessarily have to know what major you want to pursue before you begin taking college courses. College advisors can help you select a major and help you choose the courses needed to prepare for that major. They can also discuss career options that different majors can lead to.

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