4 Steps To Finding The Right College

Finding the right college is one of the hardest choices you will make in your college career. How are you supposed to know what is going to make you happy for the next four years of your life?

Follow these four steps to make the process a smooth one.

1) Decide what you really want

Are you looking for a private or public education? A small, medium or large student population? An urban or suburban campus?

There are numerous factors to consider. Take 5 minutes to sit down and write out everything that you would find at your ideal college. Consider things like proximity to home, majors offered, extra-curricular activities offered, etc.

Now that you have your ideal college list you can begin searching. A great tool to use is the College Search option on collegeboard.org. This search allows you to narrow down your search and provide you with colleges that meet your desires.

2) Research your maybes

Chances are after you do a little searching you’re going to have a small list of possibilities. Now it’s time to really dig into each school.

When I was in my initial college search I would scour each school’s webpage that I was interested in. I wanted to know the ins and outs of the schools to really get a better feel of what I was potentially getting myself into.

While admission’s offices are very helpful, it’s their job to make their school look great. So take their words with a grain of salt. If you have direct questions it’s better to ask the admission’s office if they can get you in contact with a current student at the university. Students tend to be more truthful and less likely to paint you a false picture.

3) Plan a visit

After you’ve done some extensive research of your possibilities list, you may have narrowed your search down even more. If not, that’s perfectly okay too.

Now’s the time to really see what the college is all about with a campus visit. You should try to visit as many of your top choices as possible.

When I was a junior in high school I was looking at a few different schools and decided to take a campus tour of them. I had my thoughts on how things would go, and was definitely surprised by my feelings by the end of the trip. The school I thought I would love was actually my least favorite after my visit and the one that I thought I would like the least was one of my top favorites.

It’s hard to put into words, but honestly when you’re on the right campus you’ll just feel right. It’s pretty hard to have that feeling through the Internet.

If possible it’s best to take an actual student/staff led campus tour instead of just roaming on your own. Campus tours give you great insight into more than just the physical structure of the campus. Tour leaders can answer any questions you may have, or get you into contact with someone who can help you.

4) Take your time to decide

There will come a time your senior year of high school where it feels like everyone you know is making college decisions. This may make you feel like you need to make your choice too.

Don’t rush yourself. It’s the peer pressure lecture all over again. Don’t make a rash decision just because your friends are making theirs.

Be patient with yourself and really weigh all of your options. Make as many pros and cons lists as you need. Talk to your mom, dad, grandma, school counselor, teachers, anyone who you think can help you. Ultimately though, this is your choice and you want to make sure it’s something that you are going to be happy with.

While finding the right college the first time around is the ideal goal, keep in mind that if you do find yourself at a college that you aren’t crazy about you can always transfer. You’re never stuck.

Hopefully by following these four steps to finding the right college you wont ever have to make the tough choice to transfer and will be happy with your well thought out choice!

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Chelsea Halstead

Chelsea Halstead

University of Portland junior, Chelsea Halstead, is a Communications and French double major. Chelsea hails from Alaska originally, but calls Portland, OR home now. When Chelsea isn't at school or whipping up a mean latte as a Barista, she enjoys spending time outdoors and attempting to make Pinterest crafts!
Chelsea Halstead

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