Tips for Finding the right College for you

When you reach your junior and senior years of college, you begin to look at the next step in your life. If you are continuing into the realm of higher education, applying to college is the next important step to take. As you begin your application process for college, there are some factors to keep in mind.

Academics

After three or four years in high school, you may already be aware of your academic interests and strengths. Perhaps you enjoy your economics classes or have a knack for chemistry. If you already have an idea of a potential major or minor, focus on those departments when looking at schools. However, if you are unsure of your chosen academic field, you will want to look at schools that are balanced academically and offer a range of majors and programs to choose from. Some schools even offer a five or six year program that allows you to obtain your Bachelor’s and your Master’s in a field of study. Not everybody knows the direction they want to head until they talk to someone. This is a great time to talk to your guidance counselor, parents, even friends to help you discover your interests.

As you are looking at the academic offerings of a school, be sure to look at additional perks. Maybe you have two interests and want to complete a double major. Have a good understanding of the options available at the schools you are considering. If you are looking to study abroad, you want to make sure there is a solid study abroad program attached to the school. You are going to be at the school for at least four years, so make sure it gives you the academics you need.

Size

What are you looking for in a school? As you consider your choices for schools, look at the size of the school. Maybe you feel lost in a huge school and prefer the comforts of a smaller school setting. Perhaps a large school is what you are looking for, but your major’s department is small. It is important to consider the ratio of students to faculty. You need to make sure your needs are met.

Location

Some students look at college as a chance to spread their wings and do not want to consider schools close to home. That time away from your family is difficult because you will miss them, but you may need that distance to grow into an independent adult. Other students choose to stay close to home because the financial aid packages are better. The chance to go home and do laundry for free can be appealing as well. Only you know where your heart lies; the comforts of home or the adventures of the unknown.

Cost

This can be the deciding factor for many families when it comes to choosing a college. In this day and age, costs continue to rise and the cost of college will increase each year. The total cost is not the bottom-line dollar amount however.

Financial aid plays a big role in determining the cost of your college education. There are scholarships for economic circumstances and there are scholarships based on merits. Some schools offer additional bonuses if other family members have attended school there. Most colleges will assist you in finding some sort of financial aid to help you out if you are financially or academically qualified. Sometimes it pays to look beyond that price tag.

Social Life

Academics are not the only thing you want to consider when looking at schools. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. So, check out the campus life. If you are interested in athletics programs or special interest groups, you want to make sure the college of your choice offers it. The social life and extracurricular activities are just as important as academics. When you know what you are looking for, it makes it easier to find a school that meets your criteria.

Some students go into the college search knowing exactly what they are looking for while it might take others a little more time to figure it out. Don’t panic if you are part of the second group. A great option is to begin by making a list of what you are looking for. With a written copy of your requirements, it will help you narrow down the schools of interest. Once you have the schools narrowed down, it is time to start filling out those applications. You don’t need to apply to a dozen schools to find the right one. If you have three or four that you are extremely interested in, send in those applications. Your life is what you make it and college is a great place to start. Good luck!