There is no denying it; choosing a college is a hard decision. It is a choice with numerous options and lasting consequences. Most seniors go into their last year of high school with one main question: which college will be the best for me?
Every student wants to find a college that’s a “good fit.” But, what does that mean? What specifics should you look at? There are many factors that determine if a college is good for you, including some that you and your parents might not think to consider.
An annual survey by the
National Association of Colleges and Employers
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showed the 95 percent of employers say a huge part of hiring is a candidate's experience in their career field, aka. internships. They are a must in this day in age. A degree is good, but an internship is gold. Not all colleges supply the same opportunities. For example, a school that is known for science and engineering might not be the best outlet to find internships in writing or business fields.
Location also plays a huge role. A university in the city might be surrounded by more internships than an isolated school, but an isolated school might have the best connections for your major. Make sure to do plenty of research on the internships in and around your college, as well as the career center in the college itself.
Also, be aware of on campus jobs. Work study programs are a great way to pay for tuition if you qualify for them. Being a resident assistant (RA) involves supervising people in your housing unit and pays money to be used for school or other needs, depending on the school’s policies. Plus, on-campus businesses are always a viable option if there are many around.
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I know, I know, it may not seem like a huge deal. Rain or shine, tests still happen, right? But, for some people, snow is a major deterrent. It can make them lethargic, moody, and even depressed. On the other hand, some people do not function well in the heat. College is hard enough. Don’t make it more complicated by placing yourself in an environment that makes you uncomfortable.
Plus, you also want to give yourself room to have fun. If you love snowmobiling, don’t go to a school in the middle of a desert. If surfing is your thing, make sure your college is near a coast. I’m not saying the recreational activities are more important than your education, but they are something to consider when you are trying to narrow down your list of schools.
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Do you have to walk or is there a bus to ride? Is the bus free or will you have to spend your money on transportation? Are you allowed a car? Parking availability? You might not care about the answer to these questions, but they are worth considering. If it takes you thirty minutes to get across campus to your class that may be a problem.
First of all there are campus dining halls and food plans. They are a big part of a student’s life. You have to make sure they have options that fit your needs: vegetarian, kosher, vegan, gluten free. It is also good to learn about smaller cafes and shops on campus. A lot of schools allow you to use dining hall points or credit to conveniently buy food around the college. It is true that many colleges have adapted to dietary concerns. However, they still aren’t for everyone. Many colleges require you to be a part of their meal plan for your freshman year, but after that it's often up to you to decide after. Meal plans are expensive, but they are also convenient.
Regardless of what you choose you should also be aware of the food around you. If you go out with friends or for a quiet place to study you should know what options you have. Furthermore, it is always good to have reliable and inexpensive stores for snacks and drinks. Your family-provided cookies and treats won’t last forever (though, it would be nice if they did!).
5. Mental Health
This is a serious subject. According to the
z" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 80 percent of college students report having intense stress on a near daily basis. 13 percent of them have been diagnosed with a mental disorder and 9 percent have considered suicide. The thing is college is not easy. You are away from the people who have loved you your whole life, suddenly in a whole new environment, and have the stress of college life all around you. It can be hard.
That’s why you want to make sure your college has the proper facilities and tools to help you whenever need be. Only you can decide what programs are good for you, but make sure you choose a college that will be there for you.
6. To Sum It All Up…
At the end of the day your school is where you’re going to spend a significant chunk of your time. It should be somewhere that you will enjoy your time and while there is no way to know exactly how your experience will be, doing research, a lot of it, can help you make the right choice. You want a college that will make who you are now happy…
But you also want a place that will allow you to grow. According to the
University of LA Verne
, 50 to 70 percent of all college students change their major; they decide they want to be a different person. You can change a ton in one month. Who knows who you will be in one year? How about four?
Find a college that allows you to change your major. If you are really uncertain about your future it wouldn’t hurt to find one that makes transferring easy. It only makes sense to pick a school that is a good fit for you, both the present and future versions.