Trying to pick a college or university to attend is always going to be pretty stressful.
This is a huge life decision, one that is going to lay down the foundation for your educational and career pathways from here on out – and you’ll want to make sure that your choosing correctly.
Below you’ll find a handful of things you want to consider choosing a college, the most important details that can make or break an experience for you moving forward. Do your research and due diligence, visit the campus whenever possible, and make sure that you compare all of your options and you shouldn’t have as quite as much trouble!
Academic Program Excellence
This is pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people that pick a college for a bunch of reasons outside of academics first – and then are disappointed with the overall experience (usually a couple of years after school).
Academics are a critically important part of your choice, especially if you already have a good idea of the kind of career you want to pursue forward. It’s never a bad idea to pick a school that has a reputation for excellence in your field, either.
That being said, academics aren’t everything.
There are amazing colleges all over this country (all over the world, really) and you’ll have an opportunity to attend pretty much anywhere you are interested.
Some people want to stay close at home for a variety of different reasons, others want to get as far from their hometown as possible, and others still dream about going to school in an exotic location or at a prestigious university.
All of that is going to heavily inform your decision.
Campus size is another big piece of the puzzle, with some amazing schools only admitting a few thousand students whereas other huge campuses can feel like small cities at times.
You’ll want to think about whether or not you feel comfortable in huge groups of strangers, whether you want to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond, and whether or not the campus really feels as large – or as small – as people describe it on paper.
Where you’ll live while attending college is also a critical factor, even if the overall “dorm experience” is pretty universal across the board.
That being said, some colleges and universities in cities and urban areas have completely different housing options than those that are in more rural or small town kind of settings. Make sure that you know what you are getting into as far as housing is concerned before you make your choice.
The overall atmosphere and “spirit” of a school can make or break your experience, too.
There are definitely some schools out there that are known all over the world for their academics, offering incredibly competitive programs and prestigious degrees for those that do well.
At the same time, there are definitely some schools that are known as “party schools” where you are guaranteed to have a great time while getting a rock solid education along the way.
Think about what you hope to get out of your college experience and you’ll be good to go!
Lastly, you’ll want to think about how much school is going to cost – as well as how you are going to pay for school going forward.
This is the unpleasant reality of picking a college or university to move forward with, but it is a reality all the same. Thankfully though, with the amount of financing options out there today (as well as all of the different scholarship programs) getting into expensive schools doesn’t have to leave you with a lifetime of debt the way it has for others in the past.