How to Choose a College That’s Right For You. We get it—choosing the right college can be scary.
After all, it’s one of the most important choices you’ll make in your young adult life. Where you go to college can have a significant impact on your future relationships, employment, and overall success.
No pressure, right?
If you’re starting to feel the weight of your upcoming decision, don’t worry. There are several ways you can prepare to make sure that your college pick is the right one.
In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to make sure you choose the right college. So take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.
Since some people don’t have time to read a whole lot, here is a cool video on how to choose a college I found on YouTube. Some points are the same, while others are different.
Now, let’s begin!
Find Out Who You Are
If you’re going to choose the college that’s right for you, it’s crucial that you know who you are.
This isn’t a cheesy cliché.
Different colleges are better at different things, and with all the factors that go into choosing a college (location, size, academic standing), it’s important that you know who you are so that you don’t end up choosing a college that’s wrong for you.
So take a moment and figure out what it is that you want. What’s your dream? More importantly, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
By knowing what it is that you are good at and interested in, you will find it easier to identify schools that closely align with what it is you are looking for.
In fact, knowing yourself is an unshakeable prerequisite to every other step on this list, so it’s crucial that you get this down pat before you carry on.
Luckily, there’s nobody who knows you better than you.
By spending several weeks or months with yourself, you can begin to get an idea of exactly what it is you want and can begin to cater your college choices around that.
Are you feeling stuck?
There’s no shame in asking friends, family, or even your school guidance counselor for advice.
Often, those around us are able to see aspects of ourselves that we didn’t notice.
Choose a Major
Once you know who you are, it’s time to choose a major that plays to your strengths. Ideally, this will also be a major that you are interested in.
This may come easier for some over others. Perhaps you don’t know exactly what it is you are good at.
Perhaps, as is sometimes the case, you are good at everything. No subject is too much for you.
In these cases, it often boils down to what you want. When you choose your major, you are making the first substantial investment in your future career path, so you want to be careful what major you choose.
Still, it’s likely you will be interested in more than one major. Perhaps you like English and political science.
What do you do in this situation?
Ideally, you will go with the major that has higher marketability. Remember that one of the main goals of college is to get you prepared for life in the “real” world.
You may find this much easier to do with a major in political science, as careers in this field generally pay more than careers in English.
If this is the case, it’s recommended that you choose a major that will pay bigger down the road.
Look at School Size
Once you’ve decided your major, it’s time to look at school size. When it comes to campus size, no school is the same.
It may be that you prefer larger campuses. You are ready to get out there and be surrounded in an environment full of students.
You can’t wait to feel the energy as you walk across the plaza and into the student center. If this is the case, you want to consider a larger university.
If you’re more reserved, a smaller campus may be for you. Sometimes, it’s nice to go to a campus that’s small enough to keep you focused on your academics.
If you aren’t looking for an overly-active social life (or at least want to avoid daily crowds), smaller-sized schools are an option.
It’s important to realize that size and quality don’t always go hand-in-hand.
While many of the nation’s top schools are larger, there are several smaller institutions that offer a great education and set students up for quality success down the road.
Talk to your parents and teachers about which option seems the best for you.
It could be that you feel reserved now, but with just a little push would enjoy a larger-sized campus. As such, it’s important to not make any rash decisions.
Consider Campus Location
Campus location is another crucial factor when it comes to finding the college that’s right for you.
Are you looking for a getaway, or do you want to be closer to home?
Many students find that choosing a college away from home helps them gain their independence and start their fresh new lives.
Others, instead, find that they can’t bear to be away from home for so long.
Finding the right balance is key to having a great college experience.
Talking with your friends and family can help you find the college location that is right for you.
Still, the issue goes a bit deeper than that, as well. Many states offer in-state scholarships that can greatly benefit your college experience.
Knowing this, it may be useful to choose a college that’s a little closer to home.
While it may be tempting to fly off to California for school, more-affordable options closer to home are often the better choice.
Taking all this into consideration can help you find the college that is right for you.
Remember that whatever you choose, you will likely be there for four years, so you want to make sure you are choosing the college that’s optimal for you.
Know Academic Status
Once you’ve looked at all these factors, it’s time to consider another: the academic status of the colleges you wish to attend.
While not everyone can get into the Ivy Leagues, there are some great colleges and universities out there that can give you the quality education you’ve been looking for.
In general, the colleges you will be able to get into will largely be determined by your SAT score.
As such, it’s important to do well on the test if you are looking to get into a major academic or brand-name school.
Still, even if this is not the case, there are many great options for those who are looking for a quality school.
Make sure you consider all your options when it comes to choosing the school that is right for you.
Oftentimes, you will find that while one school may be better overall, another may be more specialized in your desired major.
In those situations, it can be useful for choosing the lesser-known school simply to get better qualifications in the field you wish to join.
In the end, the academic status of your school will play a big role in how serious some companies look at your resume post-graduation.
For this reason alone, you want to choose a school that’s not only academically
Look for Scholarships
With the price of education only increasing, it’s likely you’re going to need scholarships to get through school.
Luckily, there are many scholarships available out there.
It’s important that you look for as many scholarships as possible so that you can reduce the amount of out-of-pocket expenses or student loans you will have to pay for school.
If you’re feeling stuck, remember that there is a slew of scholarships ripe for the taking.
African-American, women, and LGBT scholarships are perfect options for minority groups who are looking for a way to pay for college.
Speak with your school’s guidance counselor if you’re unsure how to go about applying for scholarships.
She will help you find the scholarships that are right for you and get your name on as many applications as possible.
You may be surprised at how many acceptance letters you receive.
Because scholarships are available for many categories (academic prowess, community service, minority status, etc.), it’s likely that you will be able to find a few scholarships that suit your needs.
Taking advantage of this can go a long way to solving (or even preventing) a student debt problem down the road.
Once you have a list of colleges you may be interested in, it’s time to look at the staff.
Your university staff will play one of the biggest roles in shaping your educational experience, so it’s crucial that you choose a school with a quality staff.
In order to do this, simply visit the university’s website that you are interested in and scroll through their faculty pages.
You should be able to sort the faculty by major and department. In doing so, you will have access to profiles and biographies of every professor who works for that institution.
Say you are an English major. If this is the case, you can go to your desired college’s English faculty and take a look at the staff.
How many books have they published?
What are their fields of research?
Are any of them leading researchers in their field?
These are the kinds of questions you will want to ask. While it’s certainly true that there are great professors at any institution, you will want to find a university that has an unbeatable staff.
Remember that one of the key goals of the university is to learn and expand your mind.
This is only possible if you are exposed to staff who will guide you in the right direction.
For this reason, it’s absolutely crucial that you don’t leave staff out of the equation.
Though it may seem tedious, spend a few extra minutes scrolling through the faculty pages and reading about your professors.
This could pay huge dividends toward you academic future.
If you’re the first one in your family to go to college, this one might not apply to you.
If other members of your family have already gone to college, however, it might be interesting to pursue tradition.
Some students find it nice to follow in their parents’ or siblings’ footsteps and attend the same university.
While you should always cater to your own needs, it’s often easier to attend a university that you and your family are already familiar with.
This is particularly true if it’s a well-known university. What’s more, this option gives you the opportunity to be near your family members if your siblings are attending university at the same time.
Having a piece of home with you at school can go a long way to boosting your confidence.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right college isn’t always easy.
In fact, there are several factors that go into deciding whether or not a college is right for you. First, you will want to make sure that the college offers a major that you are good at and interested in.
Keep in mind that the goal of college is to get you prepared for career success, so you want to consider a major that offers great marketability.
Other factors, such as campus size, location, and your school’s academic status, also play a huge role in determining what college is good for you.
You want to make sure that the school you choose checks as many boxes as possible. This will help you find a school that’s right for your academic and social needs.
Remember to search for as many scholarships as possible. This can help you get your education at a price you can afford.
If you take the above information into mind, your college selection can be less of a hassle. Remember that choosing the right college doesn’t have to be stressful.
So don’t wait! Start looking for your best option today!