Picking the Right College
Where you go to college is as much up to you, the applicant, as it is up to the college. Although college acceptances are ultimately up to the colleges themselves, you have done the preliminary work of selecting colleges that fit with your wants and needs. Colleges work to be appealing to you, the prospective student, just as you work to be appealing to them. Think of the university research and admissions process as a two-way interview; both you and the college are trying to determine whether the other is a good fit for you.
What College is Right for Me?
Start your search by deciding what’s important to you in a college. Once you have this list, you’ll be able to accurately assess whether or not specific colleges would be a good fit for you. Don’t be tempted to start by making a list of universities and try to alter your list of priorities to match the school, no matter how prestigious it is or how many of your friends are applying. Maintain the mindset of auditioning the college; if it meets your requirements, you can proceed. If not, it hasn’t made the cut.
Things to Consider When Choosing a College
How to Choose the Right College
Do Your College Research
Once you’ve worked through the list above and made decisions about what’s important to you in a college, begin your preliminary research. Look up college lists, books, and college websites to find out admissions requirements, major and course offerings, tuition, housing options, class size, ranking, student demographics, study abroad opportunities, and where students end up post-graduation.
Take the ACT or SAT
Your test scores will help determine whether a school is a good fit for you. Schools that require a higher SAT or ACT score will be more academically rigorous than those who require a low score. Once you’re confident you’ve done your best on the SAT and/or ACT, use your score information to determine what schools will be a good academic match for you.
Attend College Fairs and Visit Colleges
Find a local college fair or schedule an on-campus tour to learn more about specific colleges. Keep an open mind as you talk to representatives from universities, and don’t immediately write any school off because it wasn’t on your original list. Ask questions about the things important to you in a college to get an idea of whether each school would be a good fit for you.
Talk to Guidance Counselors, Teachers, Parents, and Other People You Trust
Talking through your college choices with people you trust can help you decide what’s important to you and narrow down your options. They know you, and many of them have had their own college experiences, so they’ll be able to offer you good advice.
Listen to Your Gut
In the end, make a decision based on what feels right. Go to college somewhere you’re excited about, and be confident in your decision. You’ve done the research; trust yourself to make the right call.