How to know if a School is right for you

Deciding where you want to go to college is an exceptionally personal and often nerve- racking choice for teenagers and their families to have to make.

The early bird catches the worm

To make sure you are organised and fully prepared for the judgements you are going to have to make, start early on your search for schools. Not only does this give you plenty of time to seek out the best environment but saves last minute apprehension and alarm.

Establish what you may like to study

Having an idea about what you may like to study, even if it cannot initially be narrowed down to a single subject, is always a beneficial factor. Many students enter college as undecided and that is fine, but having some idea of a career profession or major can help in finding colleges that offer the best facilities for your needs, or even specialize in the particular field desired.

Create a list of criteria

A list like this can help with both assessing the best and removing those that are not suitable. Do you want a large university or a small campus? Do you want to stay close to home, or move far away? Worried about tuition fees? Here is a list of common questions and queries.

Housing options. Will you be living at home? In a dorm? Apartment?

The types of degrees offered.

Majors/minors

Location. What is the location like? Is it rural or urban? How far away from home is the location?

Class size

Social life.Sports events, clubs, school spirit, etc.

Costs. Tuition fees, room and board, etc.

Student body. Gender, diversity, etc.

Reputation of the institution. Where does it rank? Is it of a high standard/quality?

Faculty. Are the classes taught by full time qualified faculty? What is the communication like between student and teacher? Effective contact is essential.

Class size.

Campus resources. Are they of a high standard? Decide what you require the most. It may be a library, laboratory or computer access.

Safety. What is the student community and outside area like? Do your research.

Accumulate a list of potential choices

Having gained knowledge of the aspects that are of most importance, begin the collecting stage. Alongside books and general college information, ask for advice from your family, friends, school teachers and guidance counsellors. You can never gain enough knowledge or facts so treat every recommendation, opinion and act of assistance as a valuable resource. You may also wish to contemplate university open days and college fairs, where there are opportunities to meet representatives from the school, and draw together important paperwork.

Research all resources

Take full advantage of every avenue of information available. If you don’t have the information you need on a particular college, consider visiting the college website if applicable. Most offer a virtual guided tour of the campus facilities, accommodation and surrounding areas, so the opportunity to get a premature feel for the establishment is readily available.

Visiting the colleges

Once you have narrowed down your search to a manageable number, the best most effective way of experiencing college life first hand is to do just that; visit the college in person. Take a tour, meet with other students, and attend classes to really immerse yourself in the customs and routines of your chosen college. It is fundamental to your visit that you feel comfortable and at ease with the school you choose to spend the majority of your time at, so visiting is crucial. Experiencing the college directly will ensure you get the chance to explore all options, investigate any topics necessary and unearth the answers to your questions while also achieving a familiarity of the surroundings and overall atmosphere.

Applying for school can be a daunting, exhilarating time but with effective time management, extensive indirect and direct research and a strong support system, you will be well on your way to identifying the perfect college.