The selection of a college or university can be a stressful event. People want to make sure that they don’t make a mistake and end up at the “wrong” school. Unfortunately, picking a school is somewhat like being in a relationship. When there are positive feelings, people might start to wonder if this is “the one”. However, what if that “perfect” person (or school) is just around the corner? There is always the possibility of changing schools in today’s society, but people don’t necessarily want to bounce from school to school. Therefore, here are a few thoughts on how to know that a school is right for you.
Programs and majors
Many people start with what the school has to offer academically. This is usually manifested in programs and majors, which may lead people towards their future vocational endeavors. Granted, there is no guarantee that they will automatically get into certain programs if they are exclusive or elite. However, the ambitious college student often starts their mental process by making a certain number of assumptions about what they might be able to study.
Faculty and staff
Another factor in the process is staff and faculty that the student meets, particularly if they visit the campus. The student will sometimes be impacted by the kindness and politeness of the people who work at the school, as this will impact how “welcome” they feel. If the staff and faculty listen well, and if they encourage the student to pursue their interests, the applicant may feel like they are potentially in the right place.
Relationships are very important to high school or college students. Therefore, if some friends are going to particular schools, this may have an influence on where the student goes. Or, if the student goes to visit the school, they may “connect” with people right away and start to feel comfortable with the campus and general environment. Granted, they won’t necessarily acquire new best friends on a brief visit, but sometimes there is just enough of a welcoming atmosphere that potential students are impacted by what they experience.
Applying to a college can be a major hassle, as students must deal with paperwork, deadlines, websites, offices, and various bureaucratic processes. If the student finds this process to be fairly smooth, it can cause them to feel good about what they might experience in future quarters if they choose to go to that school. However, if the application process is one frustrating headache after another, the student might feel like they are getting into a cold and heartless administrative machine that will never allow them to be happy.
Weather and terrain
Sometimes the geography or climate is a factor in choosing a school. This is particularly true when people visit schools that are in different parts of the country. If the school is too hot, cold, humid, windy, flat, hilly, or unattractive, people may be turned off by the environment. Some people want to find a campus that is familiar and reminds them of certain elements of home. Others are looking for exactly the opposite, as they want to “escape” their home area. In either case, the physical environment does play a factor in the selection of a college.
A gut feeling
Overall, the student must weigh all the “objective” factors and then see how they “feel” about the whole process. Oftentimes picking a school comes down to a “gut” feeling that people have about the place. There are certainly times when people just feel comfortable in a certain environment, even if all the factors do not point specifically to that place. Or, a school may look good on paper, but the student may feel a certain hesitancy that prevents them from moving forward.
Pride and legacy
Picking a school is an important decision. Not only can the “right” school be a positive step towards a productive vocational life, but it can also be make a lasting impression on the person as they engage the world as an educated citizen. A person’s school is more than just a training ground in many cases. One’s “alma mater” is a source of pride, and being an alumnus can make people feel connected to their institution for decades after they graduate. Therefore, picking a school isn’t just about a person’s first job. The positive school experience may impact them for their entire life.