Choosing the college that’s right for you is a big decision that requires a lot of consideration.
With the sheer amount of colleges available, the programs they offer, and the different campus experiences they provide, this can be an overwhelming decision for prospective students. If you need some guidance, take a look at these 7 steps to select the best college for you.
1. Assess your needs and plans.
It’s essential that your goals, long-term and short-term, are aligned with what the college can offer to you. Consider the following:
- Does the school offer all the programs you need in order to obtain a degree in your chosen field?
- What support systems does the school have in place to ensure your success?
- What is the reason you decided to attend college? Is it for the experience? Alternatively, are you seeking a degree in a particular field to obtain a job?
Unfortunately, there are schools out there, especially online schools, that will take your money and provide an education, but whose credits aren’t recognized by businesses and other colleges. This could present a big problem and a significant loss of money when attempting to transfer credits to another school or when applying to a new job. Check to make sure the school you are considering is accredited adequately in your state.
3. Affordability matters.
The cost of attending a college can be the number one deciding factor with many students. Online, state, community, and technical colleges tend to be cheaper, while private and ivy league colleges will be on the pricier side.
When cost is an important factor, be sure to list what your needs are and compare availability within several schools to find the best fit for your budget. Often, schools and organizations may have financial support or grants you may be able to take advantage of as well.
4. College life.
If you are attending college on campus, the atmosphere found there will be important to your overall experience. Be sure to tour the campus and chat with current students to get a feel for local college life. Do you prefer a smaller, quieter school? Or, are you at ease in a larger and busier college with a vibrant social scene?
Tour the dorms available if you plan on living on campus during your attendance, as well. The living areas may not be comfortable for everyone.
The location of the school can be important depending on if you plan on living at home while attending, or if you like to travel home often. If you plan on living at home and commuting, your options may be limited, or you may need to investigate online schools.
6. Resources and job placement
Receiving the best education at your selected college is of utmost importance; however, the support you receive upon graduation is also significant. Not all colleges will offer much in the way of assistance in job placement or assisting you in finding work in your selected field after graduation. Be sure to check into what resources they provide their alumni in finding jobs. Depending on your degree, this can make a huge difference in your success.
If you have children or are working, the convenience and flexibility of the school and your classes are a must. Some schools will offer night or early morning classes, and the flexibility of taking some or all courses online. If you have children or family responsibilities, you will also want to check into absentee policies the college has in place.