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Tips and Tricks for Choosing a College

Jul 13, 2018 by

College is one of the most exciting times for many young adults. It’s a time to spread their wings, flex their independent muscles, and begin to explore career options. It’s also a time for making friends, self exploration, and experimentation. It’s amazing how much growth and change occurs on a college campus. But how do you choose the best university for you? Should you focus primarily on which school offers the best program for your field of study or does location matter most? Here are several tips and things to consider when selecting a college.

Don’t Disregard Your Dream School

Don’t count yourself out before you even try. If you have a dream school in mind but think your chances are slim for being accepted, who cares? Apply anyway! One of the worst feelings in life is regret. What’s the harm in applying? If you don’t get in, at least you know you tried. And if you do, well, congratulations! You’re headed to your dream school.

Consider Cost

Unfortunately, cost is a major factor when choosing a college. Depending on your financial situation and plan, you’ll need to research tuition costs for any college you’re considering. If you’re receiving scholarship money, this might help counteract the cost. Choosing to commute will also cut down on room and board fees. Financial aid is also another helpful option for students. You can also take out additional student loans but be mindful of how much you borrow. You’ll need to pay that back following graduation which increases the pressure to find a job quickly. Does your career support the amount of loans you’ll need? This is something to consider before choosing a college or a career.

Consider Your Field of Study

Certain colleges are better known for certain subject matter than others. If you’re looking to study nursing or other careers in the medical field, research which universities offer stellar programs. How about a career in technical science or engineering? There are countless renowned technical schools across the country that might be the perfect fit. What does it mean when a school is well-known for a certain subject? It simply means that those schools invest a lot of money and resources into those programs. This means cutting edge technology, opportunities for awesome internships and mentor programs and access to resources you might not find elsewhere.

Tour, Tour, Tour

Pictures may be worth a thousand words but without actually visiting the schools you’re considering, you won’t get a real feel for the atmosphere. College campus tours are an awesome opportunity to see the grounds and facilities, dorm rooms, and get a general sense for the overall “feel” of the school. Are people friendly and warm or serious and standoffish? Does the library look welcoming or cold? If you can, sneak away from the tour for a few minutes and just sit on a bench or on the grass and imagine yourself relaxing between classes. Does this seem like a place you can see yourself spending time? Do you want to be here? Tours offer you great insight into prospective schools.

Consider Location

Some students can’t wait to move away from their hometown and broaden their horizons. This could mean attending school across the country or even overseas. Does this sound appealing to you? Consider a school located in a city or state you’ve always dreamed of living in. This will give you a taste of what the area is like and can help you plan your future. But also keep in mind that some schools located by beaches or other large cities are virtual playgrounds for college students. This means temptation at every turn. What kind of student are you? Are you self-disciplined and focused? If you can’t trust yourself surrounded by constant parties and nightlife, perhaps a more low-key school location will serve you better. If entering college is your first experience away from home, you may also want to stick close by. This means you can easily return home on weekends and holidays or when you need help with your laundry!

Don’t Follow Your Friends

It’s great to have close high school friends but it’s also recommended you expand your horizons. Not to mention, the friends you had at the start of college may not be the same ones there on graduation day. What does all this mean? It means don’t choose a college based solely on where your friends are going. If you’re friendship is true and strong, you’ll make it work across state lines. The same holds true for romantic relationships. It may be difficult and emotionally taxing but don’t base your college future on whether or not your significant other is attending or how far away from them the school is located. This is your future we’re talking about here. And any relationships worth having will stand the test of time and distance. Plus, having friends in different universities across the country means more places to visit and experience!

What Does the School Have to Offer?

If sports and extracurricular activities are your thing, check out what the universities have to offer. Whether it’s a particular sport you enjoy, sorority or fraternity or volunteer and fundraising opportunities, research what each college offers. These experiences are as enriching as your education. It doesn’t hurt to find out what type of internships and assistance the school offers when it comes to finding jobs following graduation. Don’t limit your search to simply how nice the campus looks or how many bars are in a five mile radius. Really take the time to learn the ins and outs of each university before making a decision. This may be one of the biggest ones of your life and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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