12 Ways to Make College More Affordable

Numerous financial barriers can stand in the way of a college education. That is why the State of Missouri offers many options to help knock down those barriers.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD), other state departments, and organizations help make college more affordable for students pursuing higher education in Missouri with various scholarships, grants, and programs.

There is free money out there to be had for Missourians. Whether you are in high school, college or even if you have already joined the workforce. This blog post is a quick and easy guide to financial aid options in Missouri.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Applications for most of the listed grants and scholarships can be found at dhewd.mo.gov or on the State Financial Aid Portal. For additional information on financial aid in Missouri, you can also call 800-473-6757 and select option 4. 

1. File a FAFSA

An easy way to see what financial aid you qualify for is by filing a FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, each year you plan to attend college.

You don’t even need to have a school picked before filing a FAFSA. Just file it between Oct.1-April 1, and you will receive information about what federal and state financial aid you qualify for and what aid is available through certain schools.

To be guaranteed an award through the Access Missouri Financial Assistance Program, file a FAFSA by the Feb. 1 priority deadline.

Hundreds and even thousands of dollars in financial aid are available for students who qualify for Access Missouri. There is no paperwork to fill out in addition to the FAFSA to apply. This is a need-based program designed to help students afford the Missouri school they want to attend. Financial eligibility is determined by your Student Aid Index (SAI), as calculated through the FAFSA.

Award amounts vary based on the school, your SAI, and the amount of money available for the program:

  • $300 – $1,300 if attending a participating public two-year school
  •  $1,500 – $2,850 if attending a participating public four-year, independent, or virtual institution, or State Technical College of Missouri

More information about filing a FAFSA is available on journeytocollege.mo.gov and studentaid.gov.

Note: Filing for the 2024-25 FAFSA will begin in December 2023 instead of October.

2. A+ Scholarship

If you attend an A+ high school, keep your GPA and attendance up, tutor or mentor classmates, score high on a math exam, and keep a clean criminal record, you can qualify for an A+ Scholarship.

However, this scholarship is limited to those planning to attend certain two-year schools. A list of A+ Scholarship-eligible schools and other requirements for qualifying for the A+ Scholarship are available on MDHEWD’s website

3. Bright Flight Scholarship

In a nutshell, the Bright Flight Scholarship awards thousands of dollars to students who score high on the ACT or SAT. 

There is no need to fill out an application for Bright Flight. All students need to do is enter the following code when registering for the ACT: 2379. Don’t worry if you didn’t enter that code. It can be added later for a fee. 

Students will qualify for up to $3,000 if they score at least a 32 on the ACT or achieve an SAT math score of 800 and an SAT critical reading score of 800. Up to $1,000 will be awarded to students who score 31 on the ACT or achieve an SAT match score of 770-700 and an SAT critical reading score of 760-700. 

Bright Flight Scholarship recipients can also renew annually until they earn a bachelor’s degree (up to 10 semesters).

For detailed information about Bright Flight visit MDHEWD’s website. You can also read our ACT Series for tips on how to prepare for each section of the ACT.

a high school student studying at the kitchen table

4. Dual Credit / Dual Enrollment Scholarship

Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment courses are a great opportunity to earn college credit before even stepping foot on campus. The credits count toward your high school and college coursework, so it’s a win-win.

Better yet, it is a way to earn college credit without having to pay the regular tuition cost. On top of that, there is scholarship money available to eliminate all costs for these courses.

If you meet certain financial need requirements, such as receiving free or reduced lunches or living in a foster home, and you have at least a 2.5 GPA, the Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Scholarship could be an option.

To learn more about eligibility and applying for the Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Scholarship, visit MDHEWD’s website.

5. Apprenticeships: Earn While You Learn

Working part-time while in high school or college is a traditional way of saving money to pay for tuition, housing, books, and other related expenses. But what if that job also provided college credit, training for a career, and an opportunity for full-time employment? Apprenticeships can help you add money to your college fund and set you up for a lifetime of career success. There are apprenticeships available in various industries across Missouri, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, child development, health care, human resources, IT, transportation, and more.

There are several online resources to learn more about apprenticeships, including MDHEWD’s website, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website, and moapprenticeconnect.com. You can also ask your high school counselor, college academic advisor, or search a university’s or college’s website for information about apprenticeships.

an apprentice working with his mentor in a carpentry workshop

6. Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant

This one is specifically for adults seeking financial aid. The Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant is for those 25 years old or older seeking a career that is considered to be in high demand.

An easy way to see if a program you are interested in is eligible for Fast Track is to search on MDHEWD’s website. You can search by school and by program. Fast Track has also expanded to include more training providers and apprenticeships. Plus, it won’t ever be converted into a loan like it was previously.

An application must be filled out for Fast Track on the State Financial Aid Portal.

Details about Fast Track are available on MDHEWD’s website, but we encourage you to contact our financial aid specialists by calling 800-473-6757 and selecting option 4 for the most up-to-date information.

7. Advanced Placement Incentive Grant

Who doesn’t want a free $500? High school students in AP classes who have two grades of three or higher on AP exams in math or science could receive a $500 Advanced Placement Incentive Grant.

Take a look at the eligibility requirements and the application on MDHEWD’s website.

8. Kids' Chance Scholarship Program

The Kids’ Chance Scholarship Program is a partnership between MDHEWD and Kids’ Chance, Inc. of Missouri to help children with a parent who was killed or seriously injured in a work-related accident that is covered by workers’ compensation.

This scholarship can provide thousands of dollars toward a college education each school year. Details about eligibility and how to apply are available on MDHEWD’s website

9. Minority and Underrepresented Environmental Literacy Program

This scholarship is awarded to students from minority and underrepresented groups who plan to study in the field of environmental sciences, such as agricultural engineering or wildlife management. Some requirements include being enrolled full-time and having a 3.0 high school GPA or 2.5 college GPA.

Eligibility requirements and an application can be viewed on MDHEWD’s website.

10. Public Service Officer or Employee's Child Survivor Grant Program

This grant program provides money for tuition to certain public employees and their family members if the employee was killed or disabled while working in the line of duty. This grant program is for full-time students (students with disabilities may be considered full-time when enrolled in six hours), and award amounts can be for up to the cost of 12 credit hours.

Visit DHEWD’s website for details and to access an application.

11. Wartime Veteran's Survivor Grant Program

The Wartime Veteran’s Survivor Grant Program assists spouses and children of veterans who were injured or died in combat since Sept. 11, 2001. Students can be eligible as half-time or full-time and receive money for tuition, room and board, and books.

A list of full requirements and more information on the Wartime Veteran’s Survivor Grant Program is available on MDHEWD’s website, and an application can be filled out on the State Financial Air Portal.

a woman scientist placing a bit of plant inside a test tube.

12. Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program

This grant program provides money for tuition to certain public employees and their family members if the employee was killed or disabled while working in the line of duty. This grant program is for full-time students (students with disabilities may be considered full-time when enrolled in six hours), and award amounts can be for up to the cost of 12 credit hours.

Visit DHEWD’s website for details and to access an application.

From Rookie to Pro: A Guide to a Career Working in Sports

So you want to work in sports? A career in sports can be a very rewarding and fun path to go down. However, it’s a super competitive field , and experience is king. Whether you want to be the director of marketing or the head coach, the path to get to each is both similar and very different at the same time. In this article, we will dive into potential paths to take to get to your end goal of a dream job working for your favorite team!

High School

a sports photographer taking pictures of a game.It’s perfectly normal to not know what you want to do in life when you’re in high school. There’s a lot to think about! College, a career, money, extra-curriculars, and more. To expect someone at this age to have it all figured out is crazy. However, you enjoy sports! It’s not something that every little kid dreams of, working in sports. Most dream of being out there on the field playing, but there are plenty of opportunities off the field. A lot of students don’t think of sports as a career path if they aren’t actually on the field. Don’t blame them, but those students couldn’t be more wrong. Let’s discuss some ways you could get ahead of your competition starting in high school.

Wherever you are, you are likely within an hour-or-so of a college / university with some sort of athletic program. If you have options, it’s probably best to start smaller. Smaller departments, such as community colleges, often have lower barriers to entry than a large Division I institution. For starters, send an email to their athletic department.  Explain that you are interested in a career in sports and see if there’s any sort of opening for you to job shadow or help out in any way. 

For as many colleges as there are in sports, it’s a surprisingly tight-knit community. Many director-level employees are well-connected and can make for a great reference / job opportunity. Maybe you’re more into sports photography? Well, apply the same method. Tell them you’ll come and take pictures for free, edit some, send them to the department, and see what they think.

High school will probably be the hardest place to gain a footing in the field, since many programs won’t hire below the college level. Also, don’t get discouraged by being told no, especially if there are other options in the area. There’s a good chance you’ll hit bumps in the road on the way there. It’s also not a bad idea to attach some form of a resume / cover letter when you reach out. Any extra effort will put you that much further ahead of your competition, and doing any of this in high school gets you far ahead of the competition.

College

the view of a volleyball court from the commentator box. It shows the technology used to view the court and how it is filmed for a television audience.

Now that you’ve finished high school and your next step is college, maybe you got some experience in high school. If you didn’t, you’re on the same level as everyone else who will end up in the field. The first step towards working in sports in college is getting an internship. Most colleges, even major Division I schools, hire interns with little to no experience. The same goes for coaching. A team assistant will be required to know a decent amount about the sport they want to be a part of, but no prior coaching or athletics experience is typically required. 

There are internships with offices like ticketing, marketing, guest relations, and operations. Each plays its own part in making sure the team and fans have the best experience they can at a game. The two most popular are operations and marketing. Operations will handle things such as setting up and tearing down equipment, putting up tents outside the stadium for tailgates, ensuring that ushers or part-time event staff are performing their duties, and more. Marketing focuses on the fan experience aspects of the game, making sure the environment is at its best. 

Sports marketing is a field where you can really let your creativity fly. From planning out themed nights for fans, to choosing the music to be played in the arena, there are lots of places during a game where marketing plays a part. The first step is to see if your chosen school has a sport management program. Many of these programs touch on all aspects of sports. From marketing, to actual management of a team, to the creative aspect behind it all. Talk to your counselor about where you want to end up, and they will do their best to get you there. 

Sports programs are popping up at more and more institutions as the field becomes larger and more competitive. Counselors can also direct you towards internship opportunities. Many interns don’t start until their junior or senior year, so starting early is your biggest ally. Once you’ve found some opportunities, make sure you have time in your schedule to commit. As an intern, you’ll be working lots of games that take place in the evening and even during the day. To make a good impression, it needs to be a priority but not over schoolwork. It should be a priority over going out with friends, playing video games, or other extra-curriculars. That is not to say you’ll never be able to do these things, but there will be times you need to be able to sacrifice a night of doing something you enjoy to work a game. However, if this is a field you want to get into, it shouldn’t feel like you’re going to work anyways. It should feel like you’re just picking this hobby over the other, and having fun while doing it. 

group of journalists interviewing someone, possibly a sports athlete.We don’t want to sugar-coat it, though. There will be a lot of grunt-work as an intern, such as repetitive tasks, long hours, and late nights. All of this may seem unimportant at the time, but rest assured, it is a crucial part of the process. All the pom-poms in your seat when you arrive at the game, all the t-shirts you catch during timeouts, all the students shooting half-court shots, all of that is done by interns. Games wouldn’t be the same without them and their hard work. So don’t feel like you’re being undervalued  or the stuff you’re doing isn’t meaningful. You definitely want to carry out these tasks with a mindset that you’re doing it to set yourself up for a more successful future. Your supervisors will take note of your hard work and dedication. 

Think of an internship as a very involved tryout. If you want to make the team, you must show extra effort! Take every opportunity that comes your way. If your boss messages a group of interns asking for some extra help, jump at the chance to assist. As a team assistant, you may be asked to travel extra, or even help out with game film. As an operations intern, you may be asked to stay late, arrive early, or lead a smaller team of interns if you’ve been there a while. There will be many opportunities that pop up for you to make an impact and good impression on your supervisors. Remember, they will be your best references when finding a job. If you’ve done everything listed above, there’s a great chance they will help you find a job and be in your corner every step of the way.

Post-College

You have made it through the gauntlet of being an intern in college sports and now you’re ready for the big leagues. This is where your path can go in any number of directions. Some decide to continue college and go after a master’s degree, while some are done with school and ready for their next challenge. Both are great options, but you need to make sure you have a plan in place. 

Whichever route you decide to take, relocation will probably be involved, and it’s probably for the best. Relocation is something that will happen to you in the world of sports; it’s inevitable. It definitely isn’t a field where you get a job straight out of college and stay there for 5-10 years. 

a rugby team with their coach showing them a play to use.Let’s start with more school, though. If you decide you want to get a master’s, the next step in the sports world is to become a graduate assistant. There are graduate assistant positions open all over the country and for most sectors within sports. Operations, marketing, and coaching all have graduate assistant opportunities. Almost every collegiate sports team has G.A. coaches on their staff. The same goes for marketing and operations. Your supervisor from undergrad could be a great resource and, as mentioned earlier, are almost always willing to help you further your career. 

A saying in college sports is “everyone in college sports is two connections away”. There is a great chance that your boss knows someone from a school that you are interested in. Talk to them! Use them as a resource! Especially if you’re someone who always jumped at extra chances to help out. A G.A. position is a great route to take. You get an extra degree and a ramp-up in responsibility and duty, you broaden your connections, and you get a little more experience before stepping into a full-time role. 

On the other hand, getting a job straight out of college is an option as well. You may find it slightly difficult to secure a full-time position, especially if there are applicants who have been a graduate assistant  or have better recommendations. On the bright side, you are getting more in-depth experience in your role than you would as a graduate assistant. As a full-time employee, higher expectations and more responsibility will fall on your shoulders. As mentioned before, experience is king and you’d be getting more of it going this route. 

Either option is great. It’s just about balancing your priorities and what makes the most sense for you!

In conclusion,

Working in sports is a whirlwind. It’s full of constant action, passes to every game, and it’s in an environment where teamwork and culture come first. There are amazing benefits to working in sports, and it really can be a career you stay in for life. Just make sure you’re committed. You’ll have to travel, relocate, work overtime, make tough decisions, manage people your age and older, and more. Most of that will probably occur while still in college too. However tough it may be, the payoff is incredible. Seeing tens, to hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands of fans enjoy an experience that you planned out, seeing them sing along to a song you picked, and seeing fans and teams utilize the things that you have set up for them is so rewarding. 

Now, keep in mind that this article is in no way meant to be an exact syllabus that you have to follow in order to succeed in sports. There are so many other paths to take. These are just a few that could definitely get you to where you want to be. So, if you’re still thinking about a career in sports, go for it! You never know what opportunities lie ahead.

5 Ways to Make Studying Less Stressful

Studying is probably not what most students look forward to in college. It can be a culture shock to those who didn’t need to study much in high school, and even to those who did study often. College steps the difficulty up a notch, and it can be overwhelming. We thought it could be helpful to assemble a list of techniques and strategies you could try out to make studying just a bit easier!

Use Flashcards

A pile of flashcards surrounded by other study material like notebooks, pens, and sticky notes. The flashcards are helping to learn Turkish.We’ll start off with one that most of you have probably done before in some capacity. Using flashcards is a great way to train the brain and associate a question with an answer. When studying for a multiple-choice test/quiz, this is a great study option that doesn’t require staring at a book for hours. Adding visual elements such as pictures of different colors for different subjects can also train the brain and help memorization.

Create Mnemonics

It’s hard to even pronounce this one, we get it. However, it makes for a great study tool. Essentially mnemonics are just condensing information into a more easily digestible form. For example, if you wanted to remember the planets in order, you could say: My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Nothing. Each word represents the starting letter of a planet in the correct order. You can always come up with your own too! What works for you may be different than what works for others, so get creative.

Listen to Music

Black student studying while she is listening to music.This one isn’t so much a tip to help you study, but rather to make studying easier. Listening to music can be a great way to get into your own zone and eliminate outside distractions. Also, your favorite type of music may or may not work for studying. Experiment with types of music to see what works for you, and it may not be something you’ve listened to or thought you liked! Similarly to mnemonics, you could associate lyrics to songs you like with answers to problems. Possibly replacing the lyrics with an answer but keeping the melody could help. The possibilities are endless!

Treat Yourself

Rewarding yourself for completing certain study goals is a great way to incentivize studying. The reward will vary depending on the person, but the premise remains. An example could be something like if you finish a chapter in your book, you get to watch an episode of a TV show, or you get to have a tasty snack. Do things like this in increments. You can also think in terms of getting studying done completely and then receiving a reward, such as going out with friends or playing some video games. This will take a little mental fortitude because it is important to stick to only giving yourself these rewards when you complete a goal. Otherwise, they lose their “reward” status.

Build Positive Study Habits

This portion could go on for a while, but there are a few things that we can suggest and maybe that will spark some ideas for you. The first idea is to study with friends. A group of students sitting around a table having fun while studying together.The first thing to keep in mind when studying with friends is that becoming distracted gets very easy, and if they’re studying for a different subject at the same time, it may not be the best idea to quiz them or have them quiz you. Now, if you’re studying the same thing, this becomes much easier! Along with studying with a friend, the environment you’re in can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your studying. Many like to study in a library, some prefer a coffee shop, some prefer their rooms, and so on. There are limitless places, so if you are finding it tough to study wherever you do currently, think about some other environments to try out. It can also be a good idea to study certain subjects on certain days of the week. We are creatures of habit, and the more routine we have, the easier it is to stick with it. This concept can be applied to studying.

Overall, no two students are the same, and the same is true for their study habits. Finding the right combination of factors can be challenging and will probably be different from what you’ve experienced in high school. It can even change from year to year in college with living situations changing. These are just a few things you can try, but it definitely is not a complete list. We encourage you to look at other options for reducing stress when studying and find what works. With that being said, good luck and we hope you find your perfect combination!

Why You Should Build an Online Portfolio in College

In the modern workforce, almost every job features an online component, either for branding purposes or as a part of their business operations. This is also true during the hiring process. Gone are the days where you can just walk into a company to meet the manager in person and hand-deliver a resume. In an increasingly digitized and automated world, it’s important to stand out. Many hopeful workers are building their own personal online portfolios to do just that, and they’re starting in college.

A bearded man smiling towards the camera showing off his computer with his portfolio on display.While some careers already require workers to curate a portfolio, it‘s something all students looking for internships or about to graduate should consider. A digital portfolio is a perfect addition to your resume, allowing you to show what makes you unique while also controlling your digital narrative. A digital portfolio helps you create the narrative in a positive way. It showcases what you’re capable of and highlights work that you’re the most proud of producing.

Online portfolios aren’t just for creative careers. They can be useful for just about any career field, from teachers to construction workers. A link to your portfolio in your resume allows hiring managers to become familiar with your work easily before an interview. Here are three things to consider while building an online portfolio:

1. Show off your skills

A student in the library working on her computer and taking notes of something.The benefit to a portfolio is that it can be both universal in scope and incredibly specific for an audience. Not every job is going to require the same thing, so your portfolio should highlight all of your skills. Think of your portfolio as an extension of your resume, as well as a trophy case of your best work. Portfolios are great for showing, not telling. Photos, short descriptions, and organized sections are perfect for highlighting the things that show how well you do each skill. Remember to keep it neat, as visual as possible, and easy to navigate for potential employers.

2. Build off your resume and define your narrative

Employers are not looking for descriptions of the previous job you had, they want concrete evidence of what you can contribute. Portfolios can be the perfect exclamation point to your resume by offering several examples of what skills you possess. The best examples of what you can do come from college assignments and even activities that you’ve been involved in. Did you help coordinate an event? Did you participate in a big project? Did you have an assignment that you aced? These papers or projects show off your ability to understand instructions and perform desired tasks, the keys to a great worker. A resume highlights your accomplishments in school, at a job, or internship. Use your portfolio to give better context to those highlights. 

A student working on her computer, building a resume.Portfolios are also a great way to market yourself. A portfolio can help build that narrative by offering extended contact information or access that can show how you operate in the professional world. Copying your LinkedIn URL or a dedicated Instagram page to your work can help show your ability to be professional even when outside of the work environment and linking to your online portfolio from your LinkedIn account will give potential employers further insight into your talents.

3. Be Creative

An online portfolio is meant to help show people who you are and how talented you are. Do not be afraid of making it unique. There are plenty of free online platforms that will assist in creating a website. Even free to use sites can allow for customization to really let your creativity shine. A great resume catches an employer’s eye quickly by showing what makes you unique. Let your portfolio do the same by demonstrating your personality in the professional space. 

A student working on the computer building his portfolio.It’s always important to stand out in a shifting work landscape. The best way to do that is highlighting what makes you successful. Be proud of those accomplishments! They tell the story of who you are as a person and a worker. Employers want to get to know both sides of you.

If you need some examples of what an online portfolio looks like, do some research. A simple online search will show you a variety of portfolios and ways you can create a portfolio that’s as unique as you are. 

Five reasons to choose a Missouri College

1. Missouri schools rank among the best for affordability, student satisfaction, and quality of education.

College Choice ranks Washington University in St. Louis as No.17 in the nation for having the happiest freshmen. U.S. News and World Report lists Missouri Southern State University No.6 in top public schools in the Midwest, with Lincoln University in Jefferson City and Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis tying for seventh. State Technical College of Missouri, in Linn, was named the third-ranked two-year trade school in the country by Forbes. 

A student at State Tech working with some technology.

Not only are Missouri education options top-notch, they’re affordable too. Missouri State University in Springfield is listed as number two, overall in the state for affordability and the number one public university for affordability in the state. Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau is listed as the No.3 school for affordability and No.62 by US News and World Report for value in the Midwest and No.16 in Top Public Schools. Couple the affordability of most Missouri educational institutions and all of the other advantages to living, learning, and working in Missouri, and you can’t go wrong. 

2. Missouri is a fun place to live!

A sunny day at the lake of the Ozarks with a boat cruising over the water.

No matter what part of the state or college you choose, there is fun to be had close by. Missouri was actually chosen as the fourteenth most fun state in America by Wallet Hub thanks to a recent study. The organization compared states using 26 different metrics and Missouri landed as No.14. Missouri scored fifth in the nation for having the “highest variety of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments.”

With Lake of the Ozarks in the central region of the state, Kansas City on the west side, St. Louis on the east side, Branson in the southern Region, and everywhere else over, under, and in-between, residents can find many different types of fun and entertainment. You can find waterskiing, parasailing, amusement parks, water parks, theatres, movies, wine tasting, breweries, caves, casinos, hiking, hunting, fishing, festivals, fairs, museums, bars, restaurants, zoos, and unique things to do all over Missouri.

3. Missouri currently has the 12th lowest cost of living in the nation

Cost of living is an important factor when considering where you should live, learn, and work. Missouri scores nearly 10 points below the national average overall. Groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and health care costs less here, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. The housing cost index in Missouri scores 82.1,  just over 18 points below the national average.

To compare, take a look at Illinois’ largest city, Chicago, and Missouri’s largest city, St. Louis. The median cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago is $1,550, according to renthop.com. Renthop.com says that the median cost of rent in St. Louis for the same apartment is $650. And what can you get for the same money in St. Louis that you would pay for that one-bedroom apartment in Chicago? The answer is at least a two-bedroom and likely larger because the top 25 percent of the market, in St. Louis, for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,100 ($400 less than the median market price for the one-bedroom in Chicago). So if you want to live off campus, Missouri is definitely affordable.

The arch at sunset with the STL skyline in the background.

4. Missouri offers lifestyle and living options for everyone!

A person silhouetted by the sunset at Elephant Rocks State Park

Missouri offers lifestyle and living options for everyone from the city lover to the quiet country enthusiast. For those looking to begin learning or working in the big city, St. Louis and Kansas City both offer great learning opportunities between colleges and technical schools. Living in these two big cities is extremely affordable as well.

If you’re interested in urban living but for a more mid-sized city situation, St. Joseph, Springfield, Columbia, Jefferson City, or Joplin might be just what you’re looking for. Great colleges can be found in all five of the places mentioned and all are affordable options for living, learning, and working.

There are even rural options and small-town living for those who are interested in the beautiful views and outdoor lifestyles available in rural Missouri – check out communities surrounding Rolla, home to Missouri S&T, or Cape Girardeau, home to Southeast Missouri State University.

5. Missouri's star is on the economic rise.

Missouri is moving through the ranks from 42 in job growth to 22 in the last five years. The future is looking bright and only keeps getting brighter. Two Missouri cities have been named in the top three cities in the nation for recent college graduates.

St. Louis has been ranked No.2 in the nation for recent college graduates, promising a median income of around $48,000 per year, according to a report from Self Financial. The median income is even higher when cost of living is considered because St. Louis has a cost of living nearly 10 percent below the national average. Taking the cost of living into account, the median earnings of recent college graduates is $53,274 in St. Louis. This is just an average and is dependent upon factors such as career field and type of degree.

Kansas City, Missouri, came in at No.3 on that list of best cities for recent college graduates. KC boasts actual median earnings of $49,000 per year, with an adjusted salary of $52,802, thanks to a cost of living that sits at 7.2 percent below the national average. Both cities have plenty to offer college students as they work towards their chosen degrees, knowing that the post-graduation future is looking pretty bright.

The plaza fountain in Kansas City

This information is accurate as of December 16, 2021.

5 Reasons to Apply to Multiple Schools

a girl reading a piece of paper she received in a large manila envelope.

Going into my senior year, I had everything mapped out. I visited Truman State University and immediately fell in love with the campus and atmosphere. There was no other place that I wanted to go. Later that spring I found out about William & Mary in Virginia, the school Thomas Jefferson went to. It was a school that seemed so perfect there was no need for a back-up plan. I only submitted one application because there was only one school I felt I should go to. Problem is, William & Mary did not agree and I got the rejection letter in the middle of April without time to apply to a different school.

Nearly 37 percent of all college students will transfer schools at some point in their educational journey. That was the case for me when I eventually made my way to my first dream school, Truman State, after spending two years at a local college. Millions of students across the country feel the same as I did, lacking other options when their main plans did not work out. As a student who went through this struggle and as a former college advisor, I’ve learned that one of the biggest keys to academic success is feeling some investment in your school, which is why most students only apply to their top choice.

Today I want to talk about five reasons you should apply to multiple schools. Hopefully, this will help you as well!

1. Circumstances change.

A lot can happen during the course of your senior year. Your relationships will change, you’ll gain new interests, etc. I was someone looking for a small school with a rigorous academic focus but chose to go to a school close to home instead. Likewise, there are plenty of students across the country whose priorities are constantly changing. To counter this, it is crucial that you apply to more than one school.

If you’re undecided on a major, a community college might be a better short-term option where you can get your general education credits out of the way before deciding on your path. You may also consider getting your associate degree or a certificate first, then if you decide you want to do more, you can stack those credentials by getting your bachelor’s degree later.

Applying to two universities, differing in demographics and campus, can provide a chance to have two styles of campus. When I was a College Advisor, I had a student who was offered a volleyball scholarship after she played in a spring tournament. This changed her options drastically and she ended up choosing a school she never considered before. It’s not always a bad thing!

Applying to at least three schools gives you a buffer if there is a major change that occurs outside of your control as well.

2. Other schools might offer more money!

Did you know that you could be accepted to multiple schools at the same time? Before you register for classes at your school of choice, it is a good option to apply to multiple schools and send them your FAFSA information. When filing your FAFSA you can indicate that you want your information sent to over ten universities. Each will give you information on how much financial aid they can provide. Remember, circumstances can change drastically during the year, so it is always important to see what the best financial option might be.

By looking at their multiple financial aid award letters, one student of mine was able to figure out exactly what ACT score they would need to achieve to make their top school financially viable.

3. There are ways to pay for application fees.

two people comparing numbers between a calculator and a piece of paper.

A big reason most people only apply to one school is application fees. They can range from low ($20), to medium ($60), to high (over $100). That can add up fast if you are applying to multiple schools. But there are ways to make it cheaper to apply to more colleges! First, if you are a student on free and reduced lunch or Pell eligible, you qualify for a national application fee waiver. Talk to your high school counselor about getting a fee waived. There are no limits to how many waivers you can fill out. If you do not qualify for a fee waiver, the university itself might be able to help. Many universities will waive application fees for students who come visit the campus or have talked to an admissions representative. Not only does that make the application cheaper, it gives you a chance to go visit schools.

There are also many schools that do not require an application fee for applying. All community colleges have a free application, meaning you are guaranteed at least one additional application that you will not have to pay for.

4. It makes the college process less stressful.

There is no denying that picking a university is a difficult choice for a high school senior. Especially if there are certain requirements you need to pass before you are officially accepted. The biggest of these obstacles for most students is standardized tests. The ACT and SAT can, not only decide if you can afford to go to the school of your choice, it can determine if you even get in at all. My ACT score was too low to get into William & Mary, but was good enough for Truman State. Some schools are even moving away from the standardized test score altogether. When you apply to multiple schools with different requirements for acceptance, it makes this score less impactful.

5. Don’t let rejection bring you down.

a teen writing things down in a notebook.

April of my senior year I was out of time and options. The only school I could see myself at did not accept me, and I did not finish the application to the only other school I visited. I eventually attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City for two years before transferring to Truman State. UMKC is a GREAT school, but I never felt personally connected with my choice. A lot of that was because I was judging it compared to the school I really wanted to attend. That attitude hurt my grades and my morale. The only solution was to go somewhere else for a fresh start.

This year, students across the country will get the same bad news. They did not get into the school of their dreams. But that should not be the end of your educational journey! By applying to multiple schools that you enjoy, you save yourself from feeling defeated. The main key to success in college is having an investment in your studies and that comes from being invested in your time at school. There is no such thing as a “safety school,” just other options you might enjoy if the first one does not work out.

Four things to consider as you start your college career

You just graduated high school. You’ve chosen which college or university you will attend. Maybe you’ve explored the food and housing options at your new school. It’s an exciting time in your life. Right now, it probably seems like there’s so much you still need to do before you step on campus in the fall. Getting to campus is one thing – succeeding in college and finishing your degree is another! Here are four things to keep in mind that will improve your college experience in the long run.

You have options when it comes to which math course you take

Most colleges and universities require students to take at least one semester of math. For some of you, that sounds perfectly fine. You like math, and you’re good at it. For others, the idea of taking precalculus is not only terrifying, it does not match the work you’ll be doing in your field of study.

However, Missouri’s public institutions offer alternative entry-level mathematics courses that are most effective and beneficial to each academic major. For example: A journalism student doesn’t have much use for precalculus; however, a solid background in statistical reasoning can serve a journalist well throughout his or her career. So, make sure to know your options, when it comes to math pathways, and take advantage of them.

How many hours should I take? Think 15 to Finish!

You will hear the term “full-time student” fairly often in college. A full-time student, according to financial aid and the vast majority of colleges and universities, is a student enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester. But don’t think that means you can take 12 hours of class and still graduate on time.

You should strive to complete at least 15 credit hours a semester to put yourself on track to receive an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years. If you just can’t swing 15 hours every semester, consider taking summer courses to stay caught up.

This is important because additional time in the classroom comes at a steep price. An extra year in college can mean paying an extra year’s worth of tuition, fees, and housing, and missing out on that first-year salary!

Corequisite Courses can help you finish faster

Depending on your ACT/SAT scores or your GPA in high school, you may be asked to take remedial courses before enrolling into a credit-bearing course. These courses are meant to prepare you for difficult coursework in upper-division classes.

Students who must complete prerequisite remedial courses before they can enroll in credit-bearing courses often have to spend an extra semester or more in college, and are far less likely to graduate. The additional time in school can also increase college costs and result in more student loan debt.

Corequisite courses, on the other hand, allow students to earn credit toward graduation while they complete their remedial coursework. Corequisite courses provide additional academic support which may include tutoring, mentoring, labs, and workshops. Students take the corequisite course in conjunction with their credit-bearing course so they get the help they need simultaneously. Ask your advisor if your college offers this type of course. 

Things to consider if you’re already planning to transfer

If you do decide to move from one school to another, you deserve to see the credits from one school transfer to another.

To simplify the transfer process, Missouri’s colleges and universities have worked together to establish the CORE 42, which is 42 credit hours of lower-division general education courses that can be transferred seamlessly from one Missouri higher education institution to another.

To give yourself optimal flexibility, take care of your lower-division general education courses first. If you know you’re going to switch schools at some point, use our Course Transfer Tracker to check out how the courses you’re taking now will transfer to the schools you’re considering.