With thousands of institutions for higher education in the United States alone, it's safe to assume that there is more than one university that would fit your needs. While there is no "magic formula" to finding the one college you're meant to go to, by defining what's important to you, you can narrow down your choices. Here are some important factors to consider:
What programs do they offer?
Even if you don't know exactly what you want to major in, it's important to know which schools offer what programs. If you're currently undecided, does your future school offer services to help you choose a major? Additionally, make sure that your school offers a wide variety of programs to choose from. Maybe you already know what you hope to go into, which is great! This means it's time to look for universities with top programs. Make sure to look at statistics such as how many of their graduates received a job right out of college and graduation rates from their programs. Looking into the programs schools offer will help you decide whether a school can offer you what you need.
What learning environment are you looking for?
Do you prefer to attend lectures with 300 other students or discuss in a small group of peers? Do you learn best in a more academically challenging environment? These are all questions to ask yourself when considering the learning environment you want in your future college. While big schools are also accompanied with diversity and different clubs and activities to join, they oftentimes mean big class sizes. This can make it harder to stand out in a crowd, but not impossible. When looking into a big school ask if larger lectures are supplemented with small group discussions. While small schools offer smaller class sizes, they may be more limited in other areas such as diversity and the programs and extracurriculars they offer. When considering this factor, make sure to look at statistics such as student to teacher ratios.
What kind of college are you looking to attend?
When looking into colleges it is important to understand what different types there are. You can go to a two-year institution to receive an associate's degree. You can attend a four-year institution and receive a bachelor's degree. If you are not sure if you are ready or able to attend a university right after high school, you can take classes at community college to pursue an associate's degree or to later transfer to a four-year institution and get a bachelor's degree. Something else to consider is whether you want to attend a public or private college. The major difference in between the two is where they receive their funding. Private institutions are known to be a bit more expensive than public, but they also usually offer financial aid and scholarships to students.
What is your financial situation?
Are your parents going to be paying for college or will you be taking out loans? While not the most pleasant question to be asking ourselves, cost is a very important factor to consider. While you may want to attend a private institution, public universities are often comparably ranked and can cost a great deal less. Additionally, while it may be tempting to get as far away from your parents as possible, consider that in-state schools usually have lower tuition costs than out-of-state. Make sure to look through school websites to see what type of financial aid and scholarships they offer, in addition to looking at other sources for information about scholarships you may qualify for.
What does their campus look like?
While not the most important factor, it is important to feel at home on your college campus. Once you have narrowed down your final choices, or after being accepted to a school, it's a good idea to visit the campus. Sometimes a school can look like your ideal match on paper, but not feel like home to you in-person. It's something to consider, especially when you are going to be spending a few very important years of your life there.
Add all of these factors together and you will hopefully be a few steps closer to finding the college of your dreams. We know they deciding and application process can be stressful, so let us help you along the way. Create a portfolio on KudosWall today.