Where do you want to go to college? If you are a recent high college graduate or a high college senior, you’ve probably heard that question from guidance counselors, well-meaning relatives, and certainly your parents and friends. In many cases, the question is only intended to launch a bit of small talk. On the other hand, where you decide to go to college can have a long reaching impact on your future. So, how do you decide? You can start by following these tips.
1. Identify Colleges That Complement Your Personality
You might be tempted to pick a college that seems ‘fun’, or that is a party college. Maybe you are attracted to colleges that are near beaches or specific tourist attractions. While there is nothing wrong with looking into colleges that you think you will enjoy, you should balance that out by taking your personality and temperament into consideration. Ask yourself, will that party environment be fun for you during midterms?
On the other hand, you might be attracted to colleges that push academic rigor above all else. There is no shame in acknowledging that an extremely intense, academic environment might push you towards burnout. Look for a college that will be a good fit for four years, not one that will be fun for a month or so.
2. Verify The Quality of The Program That Interests You
If you know your major, take the time to vet out that program at the colleges you are considering. For example, if you are interested in engineering, your uncle might insist that his Alma Mater is an amazing choice for you. What he may not realize is that the college he attended isn’t the same anymore. So, do your own investigating. Look into graduation rates, employment prospects etc. Find out where their graduates are getting jobs, and whether or not those jobs are closely related to student’s majors.
3. Small or Large: Know What is The Best Fit For You
Before you narrow down your choices, it is a good idea to know whether or not a large or small college is the best fit for you. If you attend a larger college, you will probably find that there is more to do. Also, if you participate in athletics at an elite level, a large college might be appealing to you because of its athletic programs. You may also have an easier time finding academic or writing help. On the other hand, large campuses can be intimidating, and you might feel a little lost in the crowd. In that case, a smaller college might be a good fit.
4. Visit For a Few Days to Get The Feel of Things
Don’t dismiss a college or add it to your short list without paying a visit. However, if you do visit a campus, try to stay for a few days. Take the official tour. You’ll learn a lot by doing so. Then, spend the rest of your time exploring on your own, and talking to current students. You will get some different insights than you would by relying only on the information you get during the college sponsored tour. Finally, spend a day off of campus exploring the surrounding community.
5. Be Wary of For-Profit Colleges
If you stay up late at night, you’ve probably seen commercials advertising colleges that seem almost too good to be true. These commercials promise guaranteed job placement. They claim that you can finish their programs in a fraction of the time that you would at other colleges. In many cases, these ads target minorities specifically. Unfortunately, in most cases these are for profit colleges that charge astronomical tuition rates, fudge their job placement stats, and often have dubious accreditation. Attend one of these colleges and you might find that you have the diploma that has no value, and no ability to transfer your credits to a credible university.
6. Is Your Major Set in Stone?
Are you certain about your major? Do you, at the very least, know the academic area that interests you the most? If you don’t, that’s okay. Many students don’t know for at least a year or two. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time to decide. After all, you are making an important choice. At the same time, if you are unsure, you might consider spending a year or two at a community or junior college. The cost will be significantly lower. You can save money, and get your general ed requirements out of the way at the same time.
Choosing the right college is possibly the most important choice of your life. Take the time to explore your options so that you find a college that is the ideal fit for your financial, academic, and social needs. Remember to keep an open mind as well. The perfect college for you might be one that isn’t even on your radar yet.
Jonathan Emmen is a passionate blogger and a regular contributor for different educational and entertainment blogs. He is eager to share his experience with young people.