We’ve all been there. There are so many school out there that it seems impossible to start narrowing them down. Here are a few key things to ask yourself when choosing a college.
Location, location, location! How far away from home do you want to go to school? If you’d like to be able to visit on the weekends, you’ll need to pick a school that isn’t too far away. If you’d like to return home only on holidays, then you can be further away. If you pick a school that is further away, you’ll have to make sure you can afford to come home. If you plan to drive, you’ll need to have gas money. Or if you plan to fly or take a train, you’ll need to have money for those tickets. Also consider whether you’d like to be in the city, with hustle and bustle, or in the country, with peace and quiet. The weather is also a factor. Do you want to be somewhere sunny and hot, or cold and snowy? These are all things to consider- location is a very important thing to consider when choosing a college.
Unfortunately, cost is an issue. You need to ask yourself how much you can afford to spend on college. Can you get any financial aid? Are there any scholarships you are eligible for? Will your bank give you a loan? Consider whether you want to get a job on campus to earn extra cash, or if you are willing to live at home to save on room and board.
Size is also important. Many students prefer small schools, but others prefer large ones. Almost all schools list how many students they allow into their school. They will also include individual class sizes. If your ambition is to meet everyone at your school and remember all their names, you’ll need a smaller school. If you want to be surrounded by tons of people, you’ll want a larger school. Smaller schools allow individuals to stand out more. If you work better with smaller classes where you can learn everybody’s name, then you may be better off going to a smaller school with will offer smaller classes.
Choosing a school with your area of study is important. If you want to major in something general, such as Psychology or English, you’ll have a larger school selection. If you are choosing something not as diverse, such as Greek Mythology, you’ll have a smaller pool of schools to choose from. You should also consider whether you are willing to do the work for a certain major. Graduation requirements for each area of study are usually available, and students should ask themselves whether they are willing to do all of it.
Sports and extra-curriculars should also be included when trying to choose a school. If you are an avid soccer player, you need to consider schools which offer soccer. If you want to join chess club, you need to make sure that the school has a chess club (or if you will be able to create one). You’ll be very unhappy if you choose a school that doesn’t offer your club or sport, and so it pays to research this before hand. (I wish I had! They didn’t have soccer at my school and I couldn’t generate enough interest for a team.)
The last thing to ask yourself, if you are at all interested, is whether they have a study abroad program. More and more schools are developing these, and tons of students are taking advantage of them. It may give you the opportunity to earn a degree in Architecture by studying buildings in Rome, or to learn Chinese by staying with a family in China. If you are down to two schools which seem identical in every way, see if they have such a program. You never know if sometime during your education you want to take such a trip.
Remember to do the research before applying and deciding on schools. You’ll be spending quite a lot of time at these schools, and your happiness, education, and future my all depend on this decision.