Bernadette Russoniello

By Bernadette Russoniello

Colleges and universities frequently use the terms “fit” and “match” to help students determine their best educational options. Match reflects a student’s eligibility and academic performance required for admissions; fit reflects the community and culture the school provides.

Arizona offers many respectable and desirable options for higher education. Take a trip with me across a few of our Arizona options.

Arizona State University

America’s largest public university and ranked No. 1 in Innovation by Forbes magazine, ASU offers students a diverse array of competitive, Research-I opportunities at four campuses around the Valley in a cosmopolitan urban setting. ASU also offers the most generous financial aid packages for lower-income families.

University of Arizona

Arizona’s oldest and original land-grant college, U of A offers students a more traditional college experience – red brick buildings, large commons, chiming clock tower and an infused sense of community and spirit in a college town. Diverse and eclectic, U of A blends the feel of tight-knit community at a large-size, Research-I school.

Northern Arizona University

The smallest of the three publics, NAU offers programs exclusive to Flagstaff, including dental, physical therapy and forestry. Bonus: four seasons, skiing, pine trees and hiking! NAU also offers the most generous academic scholarships – requiring minimal test scores and grades for scholarship test scores. A 3.0 earns $4,000 per year, a 3.5 awards $8,000 and full tuition for students earning all A’s and B’s.

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

ERAU offers a private, top-tier experience in aviation, aeronautics, engineering, software, cybersecurity and global intelligence near Prescott. During my campus tour, I was with three families who flew in from out of state. ROTC programs abound for students seeking a competitive degree in these fields. Small class sizes, simulators and one of the country’s largest planetariums are features at this niche school.

Grand Canyon University

GCU is a private Christian college recently returning to its nonprofit status. GCU offers an intimate, student-centered experience focused on academics, work opportunities, and faith-based gatherings and events. Free concerts and athletic events for all students and a contagious sense of belonging infuse this campus.

Yavapai Community College

One of five residential community colleges, Yavapai hosts tremendous CTE and vocational programs ranging from service dog and air-traffic controlling to radiology and viticulture (winemaking and agriculture) while offering dorms and a community performing arts center.

Coconino Community College

CCC offers apartments on the NAU campus and provides students with transfer support to NAU.

Advice when considering college options: Be aware of accreditation. Regional accreditation means other schools and universities will accept and transfer credit; national accreditation only works within that school system. Also, if your school is not on the FAFSA list for receiving financial aid, you may want to be cautious in further considerations.

Bernadette Russoniello is the Career and College coordinator at Maricopa High School. She can be reached at

This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.


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