Choosing a College: 80% Research, 15% Intuition, 5% Chance

Knowing what to look for in a college can be difficult. If you’re in the process of selecting a school, then you’ve probably already been inundated with material from prospective colleges — brochures, catalogs, scholarship information, financial aid information, and a million other pieces of miscellany. So is it really possible to wade through these and find the college that is right for you? Absolutely.

If you’ve taken a standardized test, some of the questions you answered in the questionnaire that comes with the test were designed to create this informational flood of college brochures that has made its way to your mailbox. So, in essence, based on answers to questions, someone has already begun the narrowing-down process for you, but that’s only the very tip of the iceberg.

So, what now?

Well, there are some very basic, very easy decisions which will be gin to cut away at the seemingly infinite choices in front of you. For example, do you want to go to an all-girls or all-boys college? Whether your answer is yes or no, you’ve just eliminated a number of colleges. Do you want to go to a small school or a large school, or do you want something somewhere in between? Do you have a particular major in mind? Then you can easily eliminate all schools that don’t offer your major. By asking yourself some of these very basic questions, you can begin to separate the “definitely not!” schools from the “This is a serious possibility” schools.

You can’t, of course, choose a college simply by the process of elimination. You have to put some serious thought into what you do want. One of the first things to consider when deciding what to look for in a college is the academic caliber of the schools. If you’re at the top of your class, chances are you’re not going to be looking i nto community college. You get my drift. Look at schools in the academic range you’re seeking, but don’t be afraid to reach. The absolute worst that can happen is that you will be rejected by a particular school, and as hard as rejection can be, it is not the end of the world.

You’re going to want to look at location, also. Do you want to stay close to home, or do you want to head off on a great adventure somewhere far, far away? The sky is the limit when looking at location. If you want to study overseas, by all means look into colleges overseas. Consider that the college you choose may well be your home for the next few years, so location is easily as important as academics. Do you like a big city environment? Maybe a college in the heart of New York City is for you. But if subways and crowds make you cringe, you need to consider that when looking at city schools.

Look for a good teacher to student ratio. Unless you’re comfortable being a number, then this is very important. Smaller class size means more interactivity in the classroom, and this can be extremely important, especially in some majors. A writing major is going to want individual attention and feedback that they will certainly not get if their Creative Writing 101 class has 500 students.

There are some people who thrive in a large-school environment. In favor of large schools, they tend to be diverse, attract first-rate professors, and have extensive extracurricular activities. They’re just not for everyone, and this should be considered.

Look at the makeup of the students — academically, ethnically, economically. Diverse schools make for a great life-learning experience. They provide an atmosphere where you can learn from each other’s differences and similarities. The “real” world is a diverse place, and a diverse school may just prepare you better for life after graduation.

Find out whether your school-of-choice offers job-placement upon graduation. This is a great service that many colleges and universities now provide, and in today’s highly competitive job market, it could make a big difference in your career. Along those lines, many schools also offer internships and externships, so if this is important to you, look into it.

One definite is that when you’re looking for a college, make sure you’re heading for an accredited school. Make sure that — should you decide to transfer later on — credits are easily transferable. Not all schools’ credits transfer equally.

Money is, of course, important in the college decision, but it should not be all-important. Financial aid is available, and the bottom line is that you should go to the school that is best for you. You just have to consider cost. Does the college have a work study program? Do they have good sch olarship programs — maybe even one for your prospective major? Are there jobs readily available in the town? Do you mind having student loans after graduation? These are all things to consider but it doesn’t necessarily bump them to the top of your list of considerations. Decide where you want to go first, and then consider how best to pay for it.

One small article cannot possibly tell you everything to look for in a college. There are many factors involved, and ultimately, different things are right for different people. This is a very personal decision. Consider it carefully, and weigh your options. Decide what you’re willing to compromise, and what you absolutely must have in a college. There is no black and white when it comes to picking a school. Most of it is research. Much of it is intuition. Some of it is just chance. In the end, you’ll know what’s right for you.

About the author:

Author: Lisa A. Koosis
Lisa is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers.