The transition from high school to college is a crucial turning point in your life, marking the passage from childhood to adulthood and the beginning of your journey towards independence. Making the choice to attend college is just the first step of the process – in order to make sure you get the most out of your university experience, you need to find a school that’s well-suited to your personality, your interests, and your needs.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing a college, you’re not alone. Experts say that many students wind up attending a local university or a parent’s alma mater because there are just too many other schools to choose from.
While there’s nothing wrong with opting for the nearby or the familiar, you might be selling yourself short if you don’t at least consider all of your options. By answering a few basic questions, you can narrow down your prospects and increase your chances of stumbling across a contender that could be a perfect match for you. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind when you’re searching for a college.
What are your interests? Make a list of all the subjects, majors, and departments that appeal to you. If your interests are general, or you’re not yet sure what you’d like to major in, any well-rounded and accredited institution will probably meet your needs. However, if you have very specific interests, seek out schools that have garnered recognition for excellence in those subject areas.
Which areas of the country appeal to you? An important factor in school choice is determining where you want to attend college and how far away from home you want to travel. If there are certain cities, states, or regions that you’re drawn to, research colleges and universities that meet your criteria and make a list of the finalists.
What is your financial situation? If you’re lucky enough to have unlimited funds to work with, financial considerations probably won’t play a major role in determining your final school choice. On the other hand, if you’re like most college students, tuition, fees, and other costs will be an important part of the selection process. If you have limited financial resources, steer clear of pricey private schools and stick to public institutions, which most experts say offer the best educational value.
Do you prefer a large school or a small school? If you like the idea of a diverse institution that offers lots of choices in terms of available courses and majors, a larger university might be right for you. On the other hand, if you like a more intimate setting that offers lots of face-time with your instructors, a smaller school might be ideal.
How do your qualifications match up with your prospective schools? Make sure that your GPA and other credentials are a good fit with the type of schools you’ve selected. If you were an academic superstar in high school, don’t sell yourself short by focusing solely on lower-tier institutions. On the other hand, if your high school record was just so-so, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by aiming for exclusive schools with highly competitive admissions processes.
If you’re going away to college soon, how do you plan to choose a school? If you’re already on campus, which factors played a role in your decision? Tell us all about it in the comments.
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