Choosing a college is like picking up seashells from a shoreline. You want to hold all the ones you find interesting, but you’re really looking for the one impressive shell that will replace all the options you’re carrying. You’re consistently seeking the best possible seashell because you would rather not be burdened by multiple pieces in your pockets. That one shell removes the weight from your hands and is the “perfect” choice out of all the tide brought in.
When you start walking down the shore, you may see multiple shells dotting the sand for many yards. Similarly, there are plenty of universities available throughout the globe. According to The Washington Post
, there are 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States alone. There is an endless sea of choices, which makes it difficult to select the college that will best suit your interests and goals. It’s impossible to inspect each college (or shell) one by one, so you’re forced to just walk and browse until one catches your eye.
Start where you’re at — your home state or region. Considering options that are close by, like community colleges, are a great way to get a feel for what’s immediately around you. These are like your starter seashells since they’re right where you stand. Some are automatically going to draw your attention, but the reasons why you’re attracted to pick them up are key. Community colleges often offer smaller class sizes and are easily accessible by public transport or by car. There are a few community colleges that offer free tuition as well. For example, U.S. News & World Report
highlights the Seattle Promise initiative that aims to provide two years of college at no cost to all Seattle public high school graduates.
Once you’re done, walk on to find colleges that are further away. Some places offer scholarships specifically for out-of-state students, and these scholarships can heavily offset costs. Kennesaw State University
, for example, offers their Out-of-State Waiver and Scholarship that allows recipients to pay in-state tuition rates and related fees. Depending on what you’re looking for, some colleges will be more attractive than others from cost alone.
Cost shouldn’t be the only consideration, of course — consider what you want to major in too! Certain universities are more specialized in particular fields. Universities, depending on location, offer various advantages as well. Consider the fact that being located in an urban area can offer easier-to-access internships, while rural areas are not as congested and can offer outdoors-based work.
After you’ve gone through all of these options, take a few minutes to review what you’ve collected. Organize them from least attractive to most attractive according to your perspective. Map out a comparison chart, and go through the following questions:
• What are the common aspects you like between these universities?
• What are the common aspects you dislike between these universities?
• Where are these universities located (e.g. urban or rural area)?
• How much is tuition for each university at the top of your chart?
• What scholarships are available at each university?
Searching for the university meant for you isn’t the easiest process, but a slow and thorough search is worth the time invested. The most impressive seashell is out there, just take that walk to find it!