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The Most Important Factors in Selecting a College

May 26, 2015 - Posted to Study

Content 27

The rush is on. As soon as students finish their junior years in high school, they begin to consider all of their options for college and get serious about selecting the school that will be graced with their presence once they graduate. They talk to others – parents, guidance counselors, and friends and relatives they know who are currently attending certain schools. This is a big decision, however, it is not one that is permanent, and students should keep this in mind. Even if you select a school that ultimatelyThe rush is on. As soon as students finish their junior years in high school, they begin to consider all of their options for college and get serious about selecting the school that will be graced with their presence once they graduate.  you is not “right” for you, you can always transfer to another. So, relax, and take and consider the factors that should be a part of your decision. They are listed here in a prioritized order, so make a decision on #1 before you go to #2, and so on.

  • Admission Requirements

Every college will have requirements related to GPA’s and scores on either an SAT or an ACT. The only exception will be community colleges, because they will assess student proficiency in reading, language arts, and math as a part of the admission process, and place students in those courses that fit their current levels of mastery. Your guidance office is the best place to look for requirements. Match the requirements with your credentials, and be certain you are applying to schools that are a fit.

  • Program Offerings

If you have at least a general idea of one or two potential major fields of study, your next step is to research your potential choices and learn all that you can about the program(s) you are considering. Some schools are simply known for their great departments in certain fields. Here is the beauty of Internet searches. You can simply Google, for example, “Top colleges for journalism,” and you will get several lists. And as you search for these top schools, you will be amazed at how many of them are public universities, which brings me to the next factor.

  • Cost

It’s unfortunate that cost has so high on the priority list, but it is. You have to think about how you will finance your education, especially if your family does not have the means to help a great deal. Pell Grants and student loans will only go so far, and you do have to eat and put a roof over your head! Do some serious thinking about how much debt you are willing to accumulate and weigh that against the projected employment opportunities and salaries for the career fields you are considering. Of course, if you believe that you may be eligible for some scholarship money, track down all of the possibilities and aggressively pursue them!

  • Size

This is really a big factor for some students. While many have attended large high schools and seem to thrive in a large school environment, others may wish a smaller more intimate college experience. You need to narrow your choices based upon this factor, for there is no point in being miserable because the college you attend is either too large or too small for your taste.

  • Geographic Location

Do you hate cold weather? Are you in to snowboarding and skiing? Do you want to be close to home and family or would you rather spread your wings and be far enough away that trips home are only during major vacation times? You know yourself, and you know your personality. On the other hand, many students who want to be completely independent do choose schools closer to home (e.g. state universities) and simply choose not to travel home often. So, consider the climate you like and your proximity (or lack thereof) of your “home base” as you look at your options.

  • Living Opportunities

Most schools offer dormitory living, unless the school is a community college which is a fully commuter campus. Check out all of the options you have for living arrangements based upon your preferences. Do you like the idea of living in a dorm with all of the social opportunities? Are you planning to “go Greek” and live in a sorority or fraternity house? Or do you like the idea of having an apartment with just a few other students who share your values and lifestyle? A campus visit is in order, if you really want to check out living options!

  • Transpirtation

Particularly for large campuses, this can be a big issue. How will you get around? Is there a shuttle service? Can you manage to navigate the campus with a bike or small motorcycle? Can you have a car on campus? While not as critical as many of the other factors, you will need to consider this.

  • The Town

Every college is located in a town. If you decide that a community college is your best choice for the first two years, there is no research to be done. If, however, you are leaving your home town, you will want to take a road trip and take a look at the town and its offerings and how they match with your interests. The University of Texas, for example, has a huge “music scene,” and if that is important to your leisure activity, you will be happy. On the other hand, if the town is small without much in the way of music venues, you may be disappointed. While the town in which the college is located is pretty low on the list of priorities, it can mean the difference between a good college experience and a great one.

If you use this list, you will be able to make an informed and smart choice for college!

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