CPV Frequently Asked Questions

It is common for college-educated people to take for granted knowledge and vocabulary about the college experience and its benefits. Many first generation college students are unfamiliar with college terminology and/or aspects relating to college and the process of applying to and going to college. In preparation for your CPV experience, review these questions that K–12 youth might have about college. The rule of thumb is to never assume a student has the same understanding as you of beliefs, processes, and terminology related to college.

What do you mean by "college"?

Colleges include a range of postsecondary institutions that offer career-based training for students after they finish high school. These may be two–year or four–year institutions or career-focused institutions where students learn specific trades.

Why should I go to college?

The simple answer is money. College graduates earn more money and are less likely to be unemployed. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor figures, during the latter part of 2014, full–time workers age 25 and over earned these wages:




Professional Degree


1.9 percent

Doctoral Degree


2.1 percent

Master’s Degree


2.8 percent

Bachelor’s Degree


3.5 percent

Associate Degree


4.5 percent

Some College, No degree


6.0 percent

High School Diploma


6.0 percent

Less Than High School Diploma


9.0 percent

Although the ability to earn more money may be an easy answer to the question of why college is important, it is by no means the only answer. A college education provides a number of economic and social benefits for individuals and society in general. Following is an array of the potential benefits of a postsecondary education:

The Potential Personal Benefits of Postsecondary Education



Higher salaries and benefits

Improved health/life expectancy


Improved quality of life for offspring

Higher savings levels

Better consumer decision making

Improved working conditions

Increased personal status

Personal/professional mobility

More hobbies, leisure activities

The Potential Public Benefits of Postsecondary Education



Increased tax revenues

Reduced crime rates

Greater productivity

Increased charitable giving and community service

Increased consumption

Increased quality of civic life

Increased work flexibility

Social cohesion/appreciation for diversity

Decreased reliance on government financial support

Improved ability to adapt to and use technology

Additionally, a college education can lead to a sense of personal fulfillment and empowerment, an increase in self awareness, a better grasp of local and world events, more efficient problem solving skills, and exposure to and appreciation for various cultures and world views.

What is college like?

It can be fun and exciting, but the coursework can also be challenging. To find out more about college and college life, talk to several people who have been or are currently in college (refer to section: “We don’t know what we don’t know”).

What are professors like?

Professors have much diversity in their styles and abilities and are often very different than what you may have experienced in middle or high school. Professors are heavily involved with research and service outside of their classrooms; thus, tend to be very busy. The number of students each professor serves is based on how many classes they teach. This can range drastically from twenty students to several hundred. Professors sometimes have teaching assistants who teach a portion of their course or answer questions from students. Most professors have designated office hours to meet with students and answer questions. In some cases, professors will meet on an appointment only basis. Ultimately it is very important to try to speak with your professors during each semester and make sure they know who you are. Establishing communication and relationships with professors is beneficial to your experience, success in college, and the process of seeking a job or applying to graduate school.

Is a 4-year college just like high school, except that you live on campus?

The differences between college and high school are much more extensive than living on campus. In high school, most students take the same general subjects. In college, all students are required to take some general courses, but the majority of courses are specific to each student’s fields of study/career paths. In college, students have far more options when selecting courses and professors. College students can use resources (talking to other students, online resources, friends, etc.) to find professors that best fit their styles and preferences for learning. In college students are required to push themselves on a daily basis to make sure assignments are completed as no one is there to monitor or supervise their progress. Instructors are often less forgiving than high school teachers. For example if an assignment is not completed, you may not have an opportunity to hand it in later. In college, you are expected to be adult–like and take responsibility for your decisions and actions.

When should I start preparing for college?

Right now. Look over the college prep checklists within the appropriate age section for details on how to prepare. You can find out about the steps from your high school guidance counselor, a teacher, or mentor. It is never too late to start thinking about and/or preparing for college. You can also visit Go College!, a helpful website that provides a list of different resources to prepare for college.


When should I apply for college?

You should begin making steps toward applying for college in your junior year. Begin by making a list of colleges you would like to attend and get admission requirements for each school. If possible, you may want to visit some college campuses. You will also need to take college entrance exams in your junior year. Usually by November of the senior year, applications should be submitted. Check each school’s application guidelines to make sure you do not miss any applica­tion deadlines as deadlines vary from school to school. Also refer to the CPV High School Preparatory Checklist.


Where should I go to college?

The size, location, cost, and course offerings, among other things may all play a part in the decision making process of choosing a college. There are many different types of colleges and you will have to find a college that is a good match for you. Regardless of your grades, there are colleges that can be a match for you and that will help you move forward with your education. Ask teachers or others who have attended college about where they attended college or about their experience.

What kind of classes should I take in college?

It depends on your chosen career path or field of interest/major. If you want to get an idea about the type of classes you would have to take for a particular major, check out a college’s website. Most colleges have required general education categories and courses. Students choose from these categories to complete their required general education courses. In addition to these courses, students choose their major (specific area of interest) and then must take specific courses within that area to meet the requirements for the major and degree. Students who have struggled in high school may want to begin part time and take classes in subject areas they enjoy to set themselves up for success in college.


What if I don't know what I want to be before I have to apply for college?

Don’t panic. Many students don’t know what they want to be after they graduate from high school. Most 2– and 4–year schools require students to take general education courses before taking courses for specific career paths/fields of study. That time can be used to explore possible fields. Many students enter college and change fields several times before graduating. To learn about careers that match your interests, take a career aptitude test (see your school counselor) or the CPV career paths self-inventory.


What should I do if I haven't done that well in high school?

No matter what your grades, you can still go to college! There are different types of colleges for people of all skill levels and interests. Maybe a 4–year school isn’t for you. You can still choose to attend 2–year colleges or other post–high school career training programs. 2–year colleges, like community colleges, and most career training schools usually accept all students who apply. Many students begin at these institutions to transition to higher education and gain experience before later choosing to transfer to a 4-year college to finish their degree. Additionally, remedial classes are available at many colleges for under-prepared students. Remedial courses may not count for credit but help students catch up academically so they can perform successfully in traditional classes.



How much does college cost?

It depends. You will have to visit the website of or contact each school’s registration office to find out specific costs. In general, 2–year schools, such as community colleges, cost less to attend than 4–year institutions. However, don’t make a decision about a school solely based on stated costs. Some schools may cost more but also may offer more scholarships and financial aid, making them just as affordable as less expensive institutions. Typically tuition for colleges in the same state where you live (in-state) is cheaper than if you choose to attend a college in a state other than where you live (out-of-state).




How will I pay for college?

Even if you are unsure about whether family resources are available to pay for college, you can still get a college educa­tion. There are a number of options when considering how to pay for college, such as financial aid, scholarships, grants, loans, and work study programs. Approximately ⅔ of all college students receive one or more of these types of financial aid. Check with your high school counselor and the financial aid office of the college you plan to attend to find out more information about potential funding options. The financial aid section of the CPV Toolkit is a great resource.





Where are the colleges near me?

College Board has a great source that lists 2-year and 4-year colleges that are nearest to the zip code that the student provides (http://youcango.collegeboard.org/college/locator). If the student has more specific preferences, like wanting to be in an urban area vs. a rural area, or has certain preferences toward sports or housing opportunities, go to:





Should I go to college in the state I live in?

The decision to attend college in the state that you live or in another state is up to you and your parents/guardians. Be sure to make an informed decision about the college you plan to attend based on what you want to study and if the college campus and community feels like a comfortable match for you. Colleges have a less expensive tuition rate for residents from their state (in-state tuition) versus a higher tuition for non-residents coming from another state (out-of-state tuition).


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