Finding The Right College For You

When researching colleges, it is important to be careful in selecting which colleges to apply to, especially with application costs not exactly being on the cheap side.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while looking for colleges that are your best fit:

  • Private vs. Public vs. Community

When looking at a college, check to see whether it’s public or private.  Each has its merits and downfalls. A public school tends to be on the large side with a larger population but also allows for each student to find their own path and fit into the school.  The bigger population may also lead to impacted classes, but can be cheaper for in-state students. Privates schools tend to be smaller in size, both population and class, but can be pricey. Some students may even choose to defer to community college for two years before transferring to a state college.

  • Declared vs. Undeclared

Knowing exactly what you want to do with your college career may seem daunting when first applying, but you may know what you want to study.  If you have a strong focus and think that it’s unlikely that you’ll be straying from that path, it’s better to choose a school that excels in that field. For example, those with an interest in engineering may choose to apply to Georgia Tech because of its high caliber engineering programs.

But fear not if you don’t just quite know what you want to study yet.  You’re not alone.  If you are still unsure as to which field you might want to concentrate one, pick a school that emphasizes liberal arts or has a variety of different majors that are all equally ranked.  A strong liberal arts college will let you dabble in a few different fields as you complete general education courses and might help you figure out what you want to focus on.  Similarly, going to a school with a multitude of major opportunities gives you a wide range of study to choose from.

  • Tuition, Scholarships, and Work-Study

Tuition can be pricey and even a four-year college can be a small (or very large) fortune.  Monetary decisions play heavily into which colleges to apply to. Luckily, the burden of tuition can be alleviated with scholarships and work-study programs.  Most schools offer scholarships for academic excellence, school involvement, and other achievements.  Work-study programs allow for students to find work, usually on campus, that fits around their study schedules in order for them to earn money to help pay for their studies.

  • Extracurricular Activities 

The end of high school doesn’t have to mean the end of your after school activities.  Extracurriculars in college are great ways to meet new friends and take a break from studying.  Make sure to do some research on clubs and activities that are offered on campus.  You might be interested in schools with higher caliber sports or perhaps one with a greater Greek life.

  • Distance

Another important factor to consider when choosing schools is distance.  While some students may be ready for a cross-country move to a completely new environment while others are not so willing to stray too far from home.  Think about whether distance will be a problem and keep it in mind when picking colleges.

  • Asking Friends and Family

When it comes down to it, there’s never anything wrong with asking your friends and family.  They’ve been a big part of growing up and probably will continue their influence for the remainder of your life.  Your parents will be a large part of your future and may be helping you pay for your tuition.  Take everything they say with a grain salt because they are biased and ultimately college will be your decision but there’s never any harm in asking for opinions.

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Clara Ma

Clara Ma

Clara is a third year student attending the University of California, Berkeley currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and Media Studies. Her school activities include being a captain on the Cal Dance Team, being a Campus Ambassador, as well as being part of THRIVE Dance Company. She enjoys living vicariously through others on the Internet, keeping up with pop culture on Tumblr, and watching a copious number of television shows (namely Sherlock and How I Met Your Mother).