Getting the right college degree from the right university will probably one of the most important decisions of your life concern. Some of the most important factors in selecting the right university are:
Where Should You Attend?
The first decision should be whether to attend a school in your home state, out of state or a school in another country. One thing that will influence this, aside from cost, is whether you want to be close to your family and friends. Some college students enjoy the sense of freedom and adventure of being in a new place.
Think About the Career You Want
Not every school offers the best training in the field you want to enter. Some universities have a reputation for offering excellent courses in some fields. For example, MIT is known as a top-class university for people who are into technology. Check the website and look at the course listings and the curriculum of the schools you are most interested in attending.
What Can You Afford?
The amount you can afford to pay will have to play a big role in choosing a college. If you will have to depend on scholarships and financial aid to get through, make sure to find out what is available. Some schools will have more scholarships and funding opportunities.
If you are big on a particular sport, you should make sure that you choose schools that participate in these sporting activities. If you are a player, choose schools that will make it possible for you to play. If you enjoy going to clubs and giving back to the community, the school should offer these opportunities as well. Any college you consider should ideally have an interest in culture, sports, volunteering and being socially active.
You also need to be realistic about your choices. Some schools are extremely difficult to get into, so make sure to apply not only to the top schools but also to good, middle-tier schools. Other things that will help you in making a decision when doing your research are:
- Your emphasis on religion: If this is important to you, find out if places of worship are on campus or if they are close by
- What others think about your choices: Talk to current students and alumni about their own experiences in college. Alumni are a great source of information if the programs helped them meet their career expectations. Current students can share their feelings and insight into the university
- Available resources and facilities: If for example you are planning to study the sciences, look for schools with well-equipped labs
- The meal option that is available: For religious or personal reasons you might not eat certain foods. Make sure you will be able to get the food you want whether on campus or nearby. If this is not possible, find out if you can cook on your dorm.
After careful consideration, you should ideally have three or four schools that fit the bill. These schools should be at the top of your list. The advice as to how many schools to apply to varies, with some people suggesting a minimum of three, while others saying six. However, it is up to you to decide how many applications to send out. Talk to your school counselor and your parents to help you make a decision. Some students send out over 10 college applications to increase their chances of gaining admission to one.
Be practical in your selection of a school. With research and effort, you can find the ideal college at which to further your education. Just make sure that you are choosing a college for the right reason. Finally, if possible, visit the campuses to get a firsthand view of what is available.