Choosing a college is one of the most difficult decisions you may have to make as a young adult. You have very few responsibilities and still, have to ask your teachers to use the restroom, but yet you are supposed to figure out where you want to live for four years and what you want to do for the rest of your life.
Many parts of society still treat you like you are a child and somehow you have to figure all of this out possibly on your own. But don’t worry, there are so many other students out there who feel like this or have felt like this in the past and made it through successfully while enjoying the fact that they made the right decisions.
With the right research and preparation, you are perfectly capable of finding the perfect college for you, figuring out a major and career path, and figuring out the financial needs no matter what anyone says.
There are so many different aspects of a college and its campus that really encompass the overall experience as a student at a university.
If you are feeling lost in the college search currently and feel like you may need some ideas to start focusing on, here are a few things that really make a difference in the overall college experience.
Your number one focus as a student looking to college is to find the school with the best academics that you are able to get into.
The number one priority should always be the level of academics you are receiving and how seriously you are taking this. The majority of the money that you are spending is on your tuition and you want to make sure that the academics and professors are worth it.
All that you need to do to start figuring this out is to research colleges in your preferred location and price range that have the best education and academics. You then just need to figure out which school you can really get into and do everything in your power to create the best application that you can in order to get into this school.
This doesn’t mean that you need to go to Harvard it simply means to pay attention to the rigor of academics at the paces you are applying. Sometimes where a degree comes from really can make a difference.
On the same note as talking about the importance of overall academics, it is also important that you check specific programs. Each college and university out there are known for certain areas and majors.
You can always do the research to find where you can go that specializes in your specific major or program. This can really stand out to employers if they know that your school is known for your line of work and having hard academics.
This is not mandatory or something and, in the end, as long as you are getting a degree you are already doing a lot better than others, but it can really help you if you are high achieving and have the means to do so.
If you are going to be living on campus, this college and its location are going to be your home for at least four years. This is going to make a huge difference in your life, and you want to make sure that you are choosing a college that is located somewhere that you enjoy and can see yourself for four years.
Believe it or not one of the main reasons that students transfer after this first year is because they disliked living in the location of their college of choice.
If you are not a city person then definitely don’t go to school somewhere like Chicago or New York because, in the end, you will end up transferring and wasting your money no matter how good the school and the academics.
Location plays an enormous role in the overall college experience.
Size of University
This is another aspect that students don’t realize has so much impact on their college experience.
At the end of the day, there is no “right” size to choose.
There are pros and cons of each, and you have to decide what suits you and your lifestyle the best in order to be happy with your decision.
Going to a big college means so many different things. Bigger colleges mean bigger classes with large lectures. However, it also means endless opportunities and clubs and a larger campus.
If you always want to meet someone new, find a new club or organization to join, and find out about new opportunities every day then a larger college is definitely for you. Larger colleges are often times located in larger cities as well so make sure that works for you if you are interested in a big college and if not try to locate on that isn’t in a large city.
Smaller colleges can feel like a small town where everyone knows everyone and you feel at home.
They are usually located in small towns and really have a small-town homey type of feeling to them. If this is what you like and what makes you feel most comfortable then this may be a better choice for you.
You could always choose a small school that is located near a big city if you are still interested in having a city aspect of your life.
College sizes what is right for you?
If you are interested in a few different schools but can’t seem to choose which one is best for you to start deciding what is most important to you.
If location is most important than pick the one with the best location, etc. There are many websites that rank colleges on every aspect so you can look them up and do the research. You can see on these websites the best schools and how they compare.
They usually base it off of many things like location, college scene, academics, sports, etc.
Acceptance Rate into College
You want to make sure that you check the acceptance rate and criteria of every college that you are interested in because you need to make sure that you are realistically looking at colleges that you can get into.
The college has become even more competitive than it ever has because more and more people are attending college.
Another rule of thumb is that usually the better the school is academically the lower the acceptance rate. For instance, a community college will normally have an acceptance rate of 100% where Harvard has an acceptance rate of 5.4%
The retention rate is what percent of freshman come back to the university for their sophomore year. It basically shows how many students liked the school enough to come back.
It can usually show which schools have the best facilities and treat their students the best.
If a school has a retention rate of 66% this means that 36% of first-year students do not come back which probably means the facilities and student treatment is low. This can make a huge difference in your decision and how you perceive actual life as a student at the colleges you are interested in.
The graduation rate is also important because it shows you what percentage of students at this university actually graduate. This is important because you want to know that your school is focused on actually getting you your degree and not just taking your money.
Cost of Tuition
This can be the main factor for many students today. You do not want to be in debt for the rest of your life, and especially if you know you are going to have a low-income career, you may want to focus on going to a school with lower tuition or trying to get a lot of scholarships.
It is sad that these are the kinds of decisions that students have to make today but it is simply just how the world works today.
Private schools always tend to be more expensive than public schools.
These are just a few things that you might want to look into as a prospective college student. There are so many more things that you could/should look into that I would never have enough time to write them all on this page. Some other things you may want to look into include housing, student, organizations, opportunities, connections, careers, sports, and food.
Just make sure that you are staying true to yourself and not just focusing on what everyone else wants you to do. You are the one that is going to be living at this school, taking the classes, and actually living through it.
Make sure that you are choosing where you want to call home.
That is the best that you can do. Don’t stress too hard, even if you do choose the wrong one you have so much time and so many more options to find your right fit.
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