Picking the right college for you
So you have already decided you want to go to college, but aren’t sure where you want to go. It’s ok. Picking the right college isn’t a simple choice and the decision should not be made lightly. When deciding on the ideal college, you should take into consideration both personal and academic goals for the future. To do this, it is best to start thinking of your choices on three distinct levels:
- Basic Fact Gathering
- Academic Research
- Personal Investigation
Gathering information at each of these levels allows you to look at the colleges wholistically and make an educated decision on which one is right for you!
Level 1- Basic Research
The key to picking the right college is to do your research and do it well. The first thing you need to do is investigate and identify the colleges you are interested in attending. After you have compiled a list of universities, make sure to research each one extensively. Look at factors such as:
- Size and student demographics
- Entrance Requirements
- Average Scores and GPA of Accepted Students
- Scholarships and financial aid
- Type of college (public, private, online degree, community college)
- Majors offered at the college
- Extracurricular activities provided at the college or in the surrounding area
Once you have done the upfront research and gotten all the necessary facts, narrow your list down to the colleges that feel like a good fit for you as a learner and individual. Remember, while doing your research and compiling your list, it is essential to pick a college that is a good fit for YOU and not the college all of your friends are attending.
Level 2- Academic Research
Next, take your list of colleges and make sure they meet all of your needs as a learner. When researching each college, ask the following questions to make sure you are making the correct choice for you:
- Does the college focus on the academic goals I need for a future career?
- How does this college ranks in comparison to other colleges when it comes to my major?
- How strong is the specific college when it comes to the programs and professors that teach in the different fields I am considering?
- How many courses does the college offer in my field?
- Will this college work if I decide to change my major?
After each of these questions, make sure to note how the colleges stack up against each other. Now that you have completed two rather intensive levels of research, it should be easy to eliminate choices and compile your “Top 5” colleges that fit your goals as a learner.
Level 3- Personal Research
Once you have narrowed your list of colleges down to your top choices, make sure to visit each campus before making a decision. Schedule time to take a tour of the school. As you tour the college, don’t be afraid to ask the right types of questions and clear up any concerns you may have about each campus. Get a feel for the campus life and what you will be doing each day as a student at the college. You may want to see if you can attend a class or two, interview with an admissions officer while you are there, and maybe even stay overnight in the dorms. This level of research will allow you to get a personal feel for the college and make sure you get a good vibe from the school.
Your end goal
Once you have explored each college on a basic, academic, and personal level, you should have a better understanding of which colleges will be a good choice for you. The ultimate goal at the end of all this research is to pick a college that is a good fit and will provide you with 4-years of educational enjoyment and prepare you to enter into a satisfying career.