How To Choose The Right College

Choosing the rigth college is about more than just looking at location, size and available majors. There’s so many aspects to a university and each one is unique.

When choosing a college, this is your time to make a decision for yourself, not your parents, not your friends, just you.

Your parents aren’t the ones that will be attending this school for the next four years. You are.

It’s up to you to look at all your options, compare and contrast and make an educated decision. Don’t be silly and pick a school just because of their pretty school colors. Take it seriously and take everything into consideration.

So, you have all your acceptance letters. Now what? In this article I’ll review how to choose the right college:

Look at all the programs you’re interested in  

If you’re stuck deciding between two or three different majors, or just have no idea what you want to declare, choose a university with a lot of options.

Larger schools usually come with a larger number of majors, therefore making it easier for you when you finally decide what you want to do and gives you wiggle room if you’ve already declared something and want to switch out or even double major.

Don’t just look at one major or program, look at everything the school has to offer.

Don’t be afraid to be selfish

One aspect about how to choose the right college is about being selfish. Sometimes there are things you want in a college that might seem insignificant to others. For example, maybe you want to go to a school that serves a lot of vegetarian options. Maybe you want to go somewhere that’s very eco-friendly, or maybe you want to attend a school with a large Greek life or large percentage of students that go Greek.

Whatever “extra” or “bonus” things you want from a school, don’t be afraid to really look into those things when you’re choosing schools. Choosing the perfect college for you isn’t always about just looking at the majors they offer, sometimes you want something extra and it’s completely fine to look into clubs, organizations and other things.

Look at the little things

Majors available, price, location are the big things you should be looking at when choosing colleges. However, there are a lot of little things you need to keep in mind as well.

  • Do the students have school spirit?
  • Is there air conditioning in the dorms?
  • Is there a student health center in case you get sick?
  • Are there a lot of on campus jobs you can apply for?
  • Is the student body mostly liberal or conservative?

Seriously, one of my friends refused to attend college in any red states. So jot down a list of things you would prefer your dream school to have, even if it seems unnecessary.

Maybe these things aren’t going to be the ultimate deciding factor but if you’re stuck between two schools you absolutely love and one just happens to have more of these extra things, well that just makes your choice of how to choose the right college a bit easier.

Can you afford it? 

Unfortunately, sometimes finances are the ultimate factors when deciding which college to attend. Colleges aren’t cheap and even if you land yourself a great scholarship, you’re still going to drop a lot of cash on books, new school clothes (everyone needs a new hoodie or sweat pants from their new home), spending money, textbooks, dorm essentials and a lot of other college needs.

So either way, there’s going to be cash that needs to be spent and most of the time, you’re going to spend a lot more money going to a school out of state, so if you didn’t get enough financial aid or simply can’t afford a private or out of state school, maybe a public or in state school is your best bet.

College comes with a hefty price tag. Don’t put yourself thousands of dollars in debt when you have cheaper schools as your options when deciding how to choose the right college.

Can you realistically see yourself going there? 

There were a few more schools that I wanted to apply to, such as schools in the south and I even took the time to look over some international schools.

However, because of the distance I knew that realistically, I wouldn’t go there.

Plane tickets, limited trips to and from home and being away from the majority of my friends (most of us stayed in Chicago or went to some school in Illinois) would just not be okay with me.

So when I was trying to figure out how to choose the right college, I was able to cut down the list of schools I was applying to just by eliminating those that I knew I just wouldn’t attend. You can do the same thing.

Maybe there are a lot of schools in your hometown and the surrounding area but know for a fact that you want to move far away from home, so that’s an easy way to eliminate a lot of schools. Maybe your ideal school isn’t in a city and you want to be in a campus town, so why bother applying for schools in the heart of Chicago, Boston or New York?

Mostly everyone knows what they want and don’t want in a school, so as you consider how to choose the right college just make sure you can imagine yourself going to any of the schools on your list, even if they were just safety schools.

Also, when you’re visiting campuses, take a look at the students. Can you see yourself fitting in? Can you see yourself walking around that same campus going to and from classes?

Take your time 

You shouldn’t choose your college on a whim. Ideally, you want to be there for the next four years. Trying to transfer can be a hassle and you should be 110% happy with the decision you’ve made and look forward to college, not feel like you made a poor decision or an iffy one.

Really sit down and think about your decision. This is an important one and sometimes, listening to everyone else’s advice is only going to confuse you more.

So if there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this article about how to choose the right college, I’d say choose a college based on what you want and take your time.

Just because all of your friends have already accepted their college admissions offer doesn’t mean you need to do the same, if you feel like you have to wait until the day before the deadline, then that’s totally fine.

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Melissa Espana

Melissa Espana

Melissa España is a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She hopes to one day write for a Chicago newspaper and have a group of loyal readers. When she’s not pursuing her dreams of being a reporter, she can be found at the Sigma Kappa house, watching reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” or correcting someone’s grammar.
Melissa Espana

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