Teachers, counselors, and advisers constantly stress the importance of SAT’s, ACT’s, a high GPA, community service, all to guarantee you a spot into your dream college and they often forget to talk about the most important part ‒ how to discover which college is right for you.
Deciding on what college you want to attend is a serious decision and a good amount of time is necessary in making it.
This is where you are going to spend the next four years of your life, perhaps more. After high school, college is the next part of your life and you want to be confident in your final choice.
I’ve witnessed numerous people go off to a college and move away from home only to come back to a local school because they weren’t please with how the college was.
While there is nothing wrong in doing this, you’ll save yourself the hassle if you dedicate some time to find what college is best suited for you.
Here are some tips to get your search started and, hopefully, simplify the process of finding that perfect school.
Know Your Options
There are countless colleges all over the US (and abroad, for that matter) and it’s important to realize the diverse amount of options for schooling you are privileged with.
There are colleges that have all female student body populations and others that have all male. The US has 1,600 private schools alone and then there are state schools, Ivy League institutes, WUE (Western Universities Exchange Program) colleges, liberal arts colleges, universities, vocational schools, and community colleges. It’s crucial to be aware of the myriad of schooling offered and, in the end, it all comes down to personal preference.
You may have had your dream school set in stone in your mind since the age of 10, but finding the school that best fits you is easier with an open mind.
Do you truly like what the school has to offer or is simply the image of the school that has made your ultimatum?
Many students often have their mind set on one school so adamantly that they neglect to expand their search anymore. It may take just a tiny bit of research for you to realize that perhaps you have a little more thought to put into this decision.
Although, that does not go to say that your dream school is wrong for you. Do look into it and consider what it is about the school that has your wanting to attend there.
For example, my sister had wanted to attend San Francisco State for all of her high school years simply because she loved the city until she took a tour of San Diego State and realized that her “dream school” wasn’t all she made it out to be in her head.
Take a look at other schools, even if you truly believe your mind is made, you may be surprised of you what you could find.
Consider Private Colleges
With the 1,600 private colleges in the US, it couldn’t hurt to look into a few. Private colleges are unique in that each one has its own purpose and focus. Because they are private, they are allowed to be more flexible with the way things are run around the school.
Along with this, private schools have more say in where their funds go and therefore are often able to offer their students larger sums of financial aid.
Finally, private colleges don’t have in-state and out-of-state tuition fees, they offer all students one price for tuition.
A private school could be a good option if you have in mind exactly what you would like to study as some of these colleges have curriculums centered around certain majors.
If You Want to Go Out-of-State, Do It!
Don’t be afraid to leave home and venture into a different state. It may seem like the process is more complicated and high out-of-state tuition fees may make you think twice, but it is possible.
The Western Universities Exchange Program (WUE) offers students a chance to go out of state for a reduced tuition price. On their website is a list of all the institutions that are a part of this program. This is a great opportunity for students looking for something new in a different state.
Apart from the program, you could always apply for scholarships and possibly qualify for financial aid to help reduce the tuition price you have to pay.
The best way to learn about anything is to experience it first hand and that goes for colleges as well.
I recently went on a college tour trip for four days and visited eight different colleges and the experience really made me realize the distinction there is from each college.
Touring the schools allows you to see how the students are, look at the community, and observe the environment there is on campus.
I was surprised to see how different each student body was at the colleges and it made me realize how much there is to consider other than what majors they offer.
Touring campuses are also perfect opportunities to ask as many questions as you’d like about the school.
Some colleges are quiet and calm while others are always having something going on. Others are in the middle of huge busy cities while some are located at the end of small towns.
Although it may be a long process to find the school that fits you perfectly, in the end it will be worth it when you attend a school that you thoroughly enjoy.