Need help choosing the right college? You’ve spent an immense amount of time researching schools online, attending open houses, and thumbing through endless amounts of paperwork and literature, and now it’s time to answer that ever so important question: Which college am I going to choose?
This decision can be quite a tough one since I am sure that you liked certain aspects of many different schools. It may be hard to weigh the positives and negatives that each school possessed, but I have compiled a list of eight things that I took into account when choosing the right college for myself.
In this post:
1. Campus Location
Were you born and raised in a city, such as New York? Did you grow up on a farm in Oregon? Growing accustomed to living a certain type of lifestyle can weigh heavily in deciding which college to choose. For example, if you have lived in the city all your life, going to school in a rural, country-like area, may cause you to feel out of place.
Looking at it from the other way around, a fast-paced school in a very urban location might not appeal to someone who is used to driving ten miles, passing acres and acres of farmland, in order to get to the grocery store. While many people choose a college that resembles the location they grew up in, others may be intrigued by something different since that can be a test of being able to make it on their own.
2. Choice of Major
So you want to be a business major, eh? Well, most colleges will have a business program, some of which are better than others. English major? The sky’s the limit in terms of your college choices. But say you want to be a sports management major; now your choice of schools has just been cut down to a few if any.
This is because some majors are unique to only a few schools, which might be further away from home than you would like. It is important to keep this in mind when choosing a school since enrolling in one that doesn’t have your desired major will result in you either transferring to one that does, or picking a different major. It is better to realize this before you actually lock into a single school since that will lead to less trouble down the road.
The dorms are what incoming students dread the most. The idea of living in what seems like a 4 by 4 cube with another person doesn’t sit well with most. Everybody has different experiences of what living in the dorms was like when they were in school, but in reality, it isn’t bad at all once you become accustomed to that lifestyle.
While attending open houses of colleges you are interested in, don’t be afraid to venture into the dorms, or take a peek in the bathrooms. Factor in things such as overall appeal and cleanliness, since chances are what they look like when you see them is what they are going to look like when you are living there. Remember, you are going to be living there, so if you think the dorms are gross at a particular school, you might want to scratch it off your list.
4. On-Campus Activities
Getting involved in on-campus activities is very important in getting the full college experience. Most schools are pretty well-rounded in this category, with athletics, intramural sports, dances, and social outings making their presence known at just about every school.
Athletic events make up the bulk of the activities, but even if sports aren’t your thing, there will be something out there for you to become a part of. Like I was told when entering school, if you can’t find something to do, you are doing something wrong or not making an effort to get involved.
5. Food Quality
The quality of the food on campus may not seem important, but it is . . . believe me. There is nothing worse than having to live off of popcorn and soda since the food at school is inedible. If you do some research online, you will be able to find information on each school’s food service, and some may even have a sample menu online for your viewing.
I mean every school is going to have the usual, hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza, but can you see yourself living off of that? How about having a nice plate of chicken parmesan? Some schools have delicious food like that, and some don’t, and from personal experience, I would make sure the food is of good quality before I decide that I am going to be eating there for a total of four years. Believe me, it will be a long four years without good food.
Now by opportunities, I mean things such as job placement, which your school might offer once you have graduated. With a very high rate of job placement, this means that when you have completed your four years of school, you are not only going to get your degree, but you may very well get a solid job as well.
Job placement saves you the hassle of having to search for a job you might like to have since the school will do all of that work for you. You could also apply for an internship while you are in school, and then turn that internship into an actual job down the road.
7. Distance from home
If you are going to be looking to make a trip back home every weekend, going to a school that is four or five hours away from your hometown might not be what you’d like to do. I found myself going to a school where I was far enough from home to have to dorm there, but I was close enough where I would be able to visit home if I desired to.
This will allow you to get the experience of having to live on your own, but also with the opportunity to return to where you grew up on say, a weekend where you don’t have much going on or any homework to get done.
8. Most importantly, can you see yourself living there?
This is the primary question that you should ask yourself when deciding on which college you would like to attend. Can you see yourself living in the dorms? Can you see yourself becoming a part of the environment your school of choice offers? If you can, then you are most likely making the correct decision. However, if you like what you saw but can’t picture yourself actually being there, choosing that school will just result in you not being able to enjoy yourself or concentrate on your schoolwork.
Being disappointed due to living in a place you do not feel comfortable in can make you miserable, and that is something you do not want to be while you are away at school. Make sure you are choosing the right college that feels perfect for you, and one that you know you will thrive in. By doing this, along with considering the other topics I mentioned, I am sure that you will end up choosing the right college that is going to best fit your personality and interests.