Find The Right College For You

Most parents and adults say college was the “best time of their lives.”

However, in order to find the right college for you—a school you feel comfortable with that will provide everything you want and need to be successful over the next four years can be a pretty stressful process.

Besides the fact that it’s a major transitional period in your life, parents, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, coaches, etc., can add a lot of extra stress and pressure during the search.

The challenge with this decision lies in thinking about you and only you. College is sometimes referred to as the time to be selfish in your life and that should begin with your first college visit.

College students and college grads refer to that special “feeling” or vibe they once had when they first stepped foot on their eventual college choice. It’s an indescribable feeling but you will know it when you find the right college for you.

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when searching for the perfect fit!

College Visits

Organizing and planning visits to numerous colleges is a must for every high school student. Colleges offer campus tours, overnight visits, meetings with professors, students, and coaches.

Visiting a variety of schools both big and small will help you find the right college for you and get a feel for what the college lifestyle is all about. It will also help you realize what you want in your future school.

Location

While college is a time to break out of your shell, you can be independent 1,000 miles from home and ten miles from home. Knowing what area or region you want to live in can help narrow down the process of choosing a college.

You have to decide what type of college town is right for you, whether it’s small and rural or big and urban or somewhere in between. Some people even decide to stay close to home to knock out  general education requirements at a community college in order to save money before attending a four-year college or university.

Academics

It’s important to figure out whether or not schools have the resources you are looking for and need to help you succeed. Also, researching the college’s curriculum, specifically the ares of study or majors a college specializes in is important.

If you’re not too sure what you want to study, check out colleges with liberal-arts programs that offer a broader, wider range of courses. Bigger schools often have larger classrooms and lecture halls, while smaller schools have smaller classes and more time to make lasting connections and relationships with professors.

Athletics

If you’re being recruited or plan on playing a sport in college, make sure you feel comfortable with the coach and the players on the team before you make any commitments. Checking out the college’s athletic facilities and amenities for student athletes is also important.

Student Life

Every college has its own, unique reputation. Some schools are all about academics while other schools are known more for their partying. A college visit is a great opportunity to ask a lot of questions about student life outside of the classroom.

Questions like: Is this school a big commuter school? What do students do for fun on the weekends? What kind of student clubs and organizations are there on campus? Is Greek life big on campus?

Financial Aid

College tuition is expensive no matter where you go but every college can offer some amount of financial aid. While some places may offer more than others, it’s up to you to contact the financial aid office at your potential school to see how they can assist you. At certain schools, there’s a scholarship for just about everything.

One last tip on how to find the right college for you. From personal experience, you shouldn’t have a set list of schools you’re going to choose from before even visiting the schools. Stay positive about the future and keep an open mind to other schools. Even ones you’ve never heard of.

The school I eventually decided on, Augustana College, was not on my original list of schools I wanted to visit. However, after visiting the college and meeting my future coach and teammates, I got that “feeling” I mentioned earlier and eventually decided Augustana was the place for me.

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Jack Cullen

Jack Cullen

Jack Cullen is a senior at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and is pursuing a degree in multimedia journalism and mass communication. Outside of the classroom, Jack writes for his college’s newspaper as well as a local daily newspaper. Jack is also the captain of the men’s varsity tennis team at Augustana. When he’s not on the court or searching for his next story to cover, Jack loves traveling and taking adventures with his friends and family.