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How to Pick The Right College

Updated: May 4

Going to college is a huge step for many students in America. From the time we start elementary school until we finish college, we are taught that to be successful in life, you have to go to school, get good grades so you can get into college, and graduate so you can find a good job. In order to go to college and make it an enjoyable time, you have to make sure that you choose the right college for you. Feeling comfortable and at home attending the school you choose is often the determining factor as to if you will complete your degree or drop out to pursue a different path. Many students drop out of college early simply because they didn’t like the college they choose but knowing what to consider when selecting a college can help you make the right choice. We put together a college selection guide to help you make the best decision.

1. Location Matters

Although being away from your parents and living on your own seems like so much fun, sometimes being too far away is not always best. Consider the location of your school for multiple reasons. Will you be able to get home easily in the event of a family emergency, during semester breaks, for family & friend gatherings you wouldn’t want to miss, or when you just feel homesick? Can you drive home or take inexpensive transportation like an Uber, the bus, or an Amtrak train? Or will you need to save money for a flight or take an 8-hour car ride? Do you like the weather in that city? If you live in a warm weather state, you might not want to deal with the cold winters or snow. And for those in colder states, you might not be prepared for the hot weather all year long. Location is definitely something to heavily consider.

2. Price

College is expensive and even more so when you live on campus. Make sure the college you choose is affordable. Before you send off that admissions packet, have a conversation with your family to find out if this college fits your budget. Consider all your options as well. Scholarships, grants, financial aid, and loans are all great ways to help you pay for college but be mindful. Do you want to graduate with thousands of dollars in debt or would you like to save some money by attending a more affordable option?

3. Work/Life Balance

Yes, we go to college for education but the social experiences that you have while in school are very important for your development as a person. The parties, sporting events, concerts, school organizations, and Greek life is what make college fun. If you’re a social butterfly and you want to venture out and meet new people or you are intrigued by the fraternities and sororities that you see on social media and you think this is something that you want to be a part of, make sure it is something that you can do on your campus. Yes education is important and is the number 1 reason you went to college but you also have to make sure that you are sprinkling some fun into your schedule and being in an environment that allows you to thrive both academically and socially is key to your success.

4. Academic Programs

This is probably self-explanatory but make sure the college you choose has your major. Don’t select your college because that’s where your friends are going or because your parents prefer you go to that school. Go to the school that has your major and a good program where you will thrive in. Consider the major related activities that they offer as well. If you want to get into production work for radio or television, research to find out if the school has a campus radio station or news show that you can work at. Not only will activities related to your major help you determine if this is something that you really want to do as a career but they will provide you with experience and on-the-job practice that will look good on a resume or help you secure that summer internship.

5. Can You Live In This City After Graduation

Most times, when we select a college to attend, we envision ourselves at that school until we graduate. Over the course of your 4 years at college, you will meet a lot of people. If you are very active on your campus or participate in internships and different jobs, you will probably build a huge list of connections that will benefit you post-graduation. It’s not uncommon for graduates to walk away from school with potential job offers and most times, those jobs will be in the city of the school you attended. Before selecting where you spend the next 4 years of your life in college, consider if you see yourself being in that place post-graduation. If not, you may return home or to a new city with no connections or familiar faces and will be forced to start over.

As those college acceptance letters keep rolling in and you are narrowing down your top choices, keep these things in mind when you are making your decision. The college you choose will play a massive role in your success and happiness during your college experience. Prioritizing your happiness and comfort is extremely important during this decision. Starting college can already be stressful for some students, help ease that stress by being confident in your decisions.

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