Choosing the right college for you can be challenging and overwhelming. With over 2,364 4-year-degree granting institutions in the United States alone, it’s so hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing the college that is best for you.
Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your in entire life. It requires an immense amount of time, due diligence and responsibility on your end.
17.4 million students enrolled in college in 2013. Many of those students will end up transferring to another school, because they did not properly do their research.
Many students end up attending colleges or universities that are not good for their major, unaffordable, too far from home, too close to home, or simply not conducive to their lifestyle.
When thinking about colleges make a list. Make a list of the most important things that you are looking for in a college or university.
For example when I was looking for a college my list included things such as: close to a city, medium size school, strong diversity on campus, maximum 3 hours away from home, easy to drive to, provided shuttle services, lower acceptance rate, school of communications, mandatory internships.
This list will help you narrow down schools. Once you have a solid list of what you are looking for it is time to actually start looking for the colleges/universities.
My mother brought me a fabulous book titled U. S. News and World Report: Ultimate College Guide. This book categorizes different colleges by state and major. It includes important statics such as: population, acceptance rate, average debt, demographics, and more.
I flipped through this book and put a sticky note on each college or university that peaked my interest.I then went online and began doing further research. I also talked to different people about the universities that I had an interest in. Talking to people not affiliated with the schools you are interested in allows you to get a personal and real perspective of the school.
Usually when you talk to people affiliated with a particular university they are cheerleaders for the school. They are hired or volunteer and their one and only job is to convince you why their school is for you. With that sometimes you only get the truth that they are willing to share with you.
Once you have about 7- 10 schools that you definitely want to know more about, schedule a visit. I strongly suggest that you visit a school 2-3 times. You are going to visit some schools once and know that you do not like them. There there will be other schools that you absolutely fall in love with.
If a school you like has made it this far in your decision process, I say you visit them on: admitted students day, you schedule a normal tour visit, and if you really like the school you should shadow a student.
Shadowing a student will give you such a great inside perspective. When you shadow a student there are no balloons, no glitz or glamor. You get to see how the students and the school function on an average day.
Once you have chosen about 5 -7 schools that you want to apply to. See if you can afford these schools. Some of you are reading this and thinking, “For’real Ariana? For’real? You wait until now to talk about the cost of college.” If you want to base your college selection on the price of the school by all means do that.
I do not suggest it; because you never know how much money that school might be willing to give you. Also even though college in America is extremely expensive and the manner in which we pay for college is extremely flawed, its still an investment in your future. I am not telling you to go for broke, because that’s stupid.
Out of all the schools that you are applying to 1 should be a school that you would get in to without a doubt; like a community college. 2-3 schools should be schools that you are definitely going to get accepted to, because you meet all of the qualifications. Finally you should apply to 1 reach school. 1 school that you are not too sure if you will get into, but you might.
There are so many things to consider when searching for a college. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Good luck! It’s a very exciting time.