Trying to figure out how to choose between colleges? You are not alone!
Many of us, when we apply to school, apply to a bunch of different ones hoping that we’ll get an acceptance letter from just one. But what happens when more than one get back to you? You didn’t prepare for this! How do you choose?!
Well today Steven from MyCollegeAdventures is here to help you choose between colleges! Without further ado, here’s Steven!
Choosing between colleges is like choosing between your favorite ice cream flavors. All the flavors look so enticing: vanilla, moose tracks (my personal fav), mint chocolate chip, and strawberry. But you can only choose one. Choosing between your list of colleges is just as hard. Luckily, here are 9 tips to help make your decision a bit easier.
1: Does it have your interests?
This seems like a no brainer, and although the tips aren’t listed in order of importance, this has to be the most important. Don’t even think about going to a college if it doesn’t have what you’re studying. The more passionate you are about what you’re studying, the more likely you are to succeed. I guess if you’re undecided or still a bit clueless about your future (which is absolutely fine by the way), then this won’t be a huge factor to consider. Your interests are bound to change as you grow, but your goals in life usually stay the same. So if you’re a bit clueless on your interests right now, don’t sweat it, but take the time to sit down and write about your life goals. If you can focus on those big goals, you can use them to guide you through your journey of life.
2: Does it adhere to your values?
Choose a college that reflects on you and your values. All of our values will differ, but make sure you know which ones are the most important to you. Look to see if the college aligns with your religious affiliation, and if the educational approach is something you agree with.
Just remember: this decision is about YOU.
3: Will it break the bank?
If you didn’t know this yet, college is expensive. According to collegedata.com, the average cost for college per year is $24,061. That’s quite a lump of change and don’t forget, this number varies depending on the type of college (private, public, community), your major, if you’re in state or out of state… the list goes on.
For the few that don’t have to worry about money, awesome! Pick the best college for yourself. For the many of us that do, look at the price tag and see if you can get it down. Apply for all the scholarships and financial aid that you are eligible for. Don’t just look at the ones provided by your school! There are many scholarship search websites, you just have to do a bit of digging. The last thing to keep in mind is the VALUE of your education. Ask yourself what you are paying for. Is it the education? The place? The experience? Then ask yourself if X amount of money is worth paying for these factors.
4: Will this lead to new opportunities?
Don’t look at your college education as an end goal. Instead, look at it as a “means-to-an-end” goal. If your ultimate goal is just to graduate college, then you have no plan to develop and grow yourself in the future.
Pick out a college that will offer you plenty of opportunities to explore your interests. Often times, colleges are well known for certain programs: journalism, engineering, music, science etc., so pick a school that aligns their strengths with your interests, values and goals, so after you graduate, you have plenty of opportunities to build your future.
5: Can I apply to a school, instead of a university?
If this doesn’t make any sense to you, it’s quite alright. I didn’t figure it out until most deadlines were just a few nights away. Each university (eg. Indiana University, University of California – Davis) has specific schools within them (eg. Kelley School of Business, UC Davis School of Medicine).
When you apply, try to research these specific schools and apply to them during your application process to the university. Otherwise you will usually be put into the usual College of Arts and Sciences, where most freshman go and have to reapply to these specific schools after your first few years in college. Many times, the rankings of the specific schools far outrank the actual universities. For example Indiana University is ranked around 70th among US universities, but the Kelley School of Business is consistently Top 10. So even though you might be in a top 100 university, you’re in a top 10 program, which adds a lot of value to your education.
6: Does the school have a community/environment you enjoy?
If there’s one thing for sure, college students have a lot of pride in their school. So wherever you end up, be prepared to be in this amazing cultural experience. But each community and environment is different across campuses. Some of them are very sports heavy, others have a focus on art. You just have to decide which of these environments that you enjoy the most and will thrive in.
7: Do you love the campus, or can you learn to love it?
When I was applying, I was applying all over the country so I really didn’t have to time or money to visit all of them. However, I did as much online research as I can on each campus to make sure I love them, or can learn to love. I scourged all the YouTube videos I can find of the universities and Google Imaged them at least 10 times each.
Here’s the problem: every university is beautiful in its own way and I fell in love with all of them. But the actual place is always much better than the pictures. If you have the chance, go visit at least your dream school. Otherwise, don’t worry too much about the campus, they are all beautiful in their own way, sometimes it might just take longer to find it. Me? I fall in love with Indiana University every day I walk back and forth to my classes just admiring the buildings, the trees and their squirrels. Even if you don’t absolutely love your campus at first sight, you’ll be sure to slowly fall in love with it if you give it time.
8: Am I paying too much attention to stats?
Please. Please do not do this to yourself. Do not let your friends, family, and most of all you, stress yourself out about rankings and going to a top notch school. You are going to college for YOU. Not for anyone else. Of course, if you get in, great! But seriously don’t sweat over it. Get in a program that will challenge and shape you, but also allows room for success and growth. Many of the students going to these top schools end up dropping out because they weren’t ready for that challenge. And where do they end up? Back to the schools that “weren’t good enough for them.” Don’t fall into this trap. Although stats are important, do not use this as your only deciding factor for college.
9: Am I objective and open-minded about this?
I’ll keep this one short and easy because it is really important. Be objective and open-minded. If you don’t let people in to help you, or see every moment as an opportunity, you’ll never know where you could be. Listen to those who have already been through this experience and talk to those who are currently experiencing it now. College is going to be one of the most important, transitional times of your life. Don’t blow it because you were closed-minded and lost all your opportunities.