Do you remember the story” Goldilocks and the three bears?” You were probably told this story as a young child about how Goldilocks tried out many things before she found something that was “just right”. Imagine you’re Goldilocks and instead of looking for a place to sit or porridge to eat, you’re looking for the perfect college. You may be looking for colleges that aren’t too big or not too small or maybe it’s the complete opposite. Choosing the right college can seem like a somewhat daunting task since there’s so much to consider like size, location, academic rigor, Greek life and many other factors. But it doesn’t have to be. Following these tips will help you select the college that is “just right”.
Determine Your Academic Goals
Academics are a very big part of the college life. Some colleges are known for having really good programs of study in different majors. So you should look at all your options. Figuring out your short term and long term goals can be a great first step in choosing a college. If your long term goal is to obtain a degree in Business, you may want to focus on colleges that have very good business programs. If you’re undecided that’s okay too. Schools with many majors to choose from can be a great option for students who are undecided.
This would also be great time to assess how do you learn. Do you learn best in a smaller class size? Would you like having large auditorium-like classes? If you have a learning disability, would your school be able to give you accommodations if you needed them? These would all be helpful questions to ask yourself before choosing the right college.
Assess the Campus Life
Each of us is unique so we all have our own interests. Your personality can be a leading factor in your college choice. Finding the college that offers activities that you like may be easier than you think.
Many colleges have websites that you can visit to see videos and pictures of the campus. This will also include the housing, library, stadium and a list of clubs and organizations at the school. So you should pay attention because if you are considering going Greek, some colleges may not offer it!
Also, if you have a physical disability, you should be mindful of the layout of the campus. Traditionally, hills and grassy campuses may not be better than flat pavement filled campuses. All in all, visiting colleges is the sure way to get the feel of a campus. This can give you an idea of ways you can be active outside of the classroom if you were to go there
The cost to attend a school can be a huge factor in determining whether it is a good fit for you. Tuition, room and board, classes, meal plans, books……the total of attending college can really add up. That is why it is useful to research different colleges prices.
There are websites like www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org that can help you in researching different colleges including how much tuition is for out-of-state and in-state students.
Availability of financial aid such as scholarships can lead one to choose a particular college. For example, a limited amount of merit-based scholarships is given out at prestigious universities since there are so many equally qualified people. So if you need aid, it may be better to look into smaller colleges.
If attending a university is going to require you to take out a massive amount of student loans but you have a chance to go to another institution at a much lower price and receive a similar quality of education, it’s probably not the best idea, financially, to go to the one that is more expensive.
All in all, selecting the right college will impact your life significantly since college is a big investment. Some aspects of the college life may not be as important to you as you originally thought and sometimes what you think you want may not be what you actually decide on. Regardless, deciding on a college is exciting and a passageway to the rest of your academic career and life.