How Do I Find the Best College for Me?
There are thousands of colleges across the country with so many different academic programs and experiences to offer, so how do you choose a college that best fits you?
The answer will differ among each perspective college student. The most important qualities to look for in a college should correlate with the type of educational and social experiences you desire. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself when considering, “How do I find the best college for me?”
- Does the school have the academic programs I want?
First and foremost, you are going to college to achieve a higher education in a field that you want as a career; so, pick a school that has strong academic programs that will help best prepare you. While most schools offer a wide variety of majors, each usually has certain programs that are more highly recognized than others.
For example, the college I attend, University of Dayton, is well-known for their engineering program. Therefore, perspective college students interested in pursuing engineering should take that excellent academic program into account.
- Do I want to attend a big or small university?
The size of the college will be a very important factor in your decision. Some people thrive on the bigger campuses with 50,000 plus students; other students prefer a smaller campus with 5,000 to 10,000 students.
The campus tour will help you decide which size you prefer. Remember; you’re going to be living on this campus for four or more years, so you it’s crucial that you feel comfortable getting around campus.
- Do I like the location?
The actual location of the college is important for traveling reasons. You’re going to have to commute back and forth from school to your house. Some people prefer to choose a school in-state for an easier commute back home. Other students don’t mind getting a flight back to their out of state home.
Also, colleges are urban or rural. Decide if you want a campus centered near a large city, or one that is further away and more secluded. Be sure to pick a school that is in a location you are comfortable getting around in.
- Can I afford this school for four years?
One of the realities of attending college is that it is going to be expensive no matter which university or college you choose. It’s really important that you choose a college that is within the cost of your family’s financial means.
Even with scholarships, it’s important to consider your budget for attendance each year in order to avoid a large amount of student loans to pay off after graduation. Keep in mind the location; travel costs will also increase the financial burden of the school.
- What’s the average class size?
On the campus visit, your tour guide will most likely mention the average size of each classroom. While it also depends on the specific course, each college has a typical class size.
The lecture classes will be larger regardless, but the exact size will correlate with the overall size of the university. For example, a smaller university would have a lecture class at max of 100 students, but a larger state school would most likely have a lecture class with up to 500 students.
A smaller class size allows for more personal interaction with your professor but a larger class size sometimes allows for more student interaction. Keep this in mind; each student will have a different preference based on their learning style.
- What’s the campus atmosphere like?
From the moment your campus tour begins, you’ll be able to get a feel for the type of campus this university has. Whether it is a strong community of students or an extremely welcoming staff, these little aspects will give you a sign at what life would be like on the campus.
If you visit while classes are still in session, you can truly get an idea of how the students interact with each other on campus. This is such an important aspect to consider while you’re trying to pick a college. You know yourself best, so try to pick a college that you can see yourself thriving at!
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