What College Should I Go To?

Senior year of high school evokes a whirlwind of emotions: excitement, nostalgia, stress and nervousness.

Simultaneously you are presented with many questions that need answering, such as: ‘How do I apply for college?’; ‘Have I met all the college requirements?’; and arguably the most important question: “What college should I go to?’

Stress no more!  For I have come up with some of my own questions that will help you evaluate and ease your college qualms…

 Are you a homebody or an adventurer?

If being away from home is exciting and energizing, then college is the time to explore.  These years will be filled with new friends, memories, and an abundance of self-discovery.  Keep in mind that venturing too far away from home may challenge you with facing new cultures, ideas, and demographics.  Ask yourself if that’s something you’re ready for, it may be an exciting experience.

If being too far away from home leaves you in a panic, somewhere closer to home may be a better fit for you.  This, however, does not mean you should stay within a 50-mile radius of your hometown.  Look for schools that are easily accessible (close to a city, or major airport), and have the same values and characteristics as where you call home.

 What can you afford?

Money is a pivotal issue.  Whether you are a trust fund baby or a first generation college student, financial planning is necessary.  Are you eligible for academic or athletic scholarships?  Do you qualify for grants or financial aid?  How much debt are you or your parents willing or able to incur to achieve your college goals?  These are difficult and sometimes very emotional issues to evaluate but agreement by all parties involved is vital before advancing your college quest.

Do you prefer a group or individualistic style of learning?

This is important.  Colleges with larger populations typically have a higher student-to-professor ratio, which translates to larger class sizes.  In these settings, more emphasis is placed on students to attend office hours (meetings with professors) and self-teach to fill in any learning gaps you may have.  Alternately, schools with smaller populations may have the time to assist individual students on a more frequent basis, and work to provide students with special tools they need to achieve success.

 Do you have a career path in mind?

If you are already 100% sure of your professional career path and the education required to meet your goals, that’s great!  It may be wise to focus on schools that specialize in the area of your career pursuit.  If you pick a school highly regarded in your intended major area, your degree will hold much more weight in the ‘real’ world and may broaden career or professional school opportunities.

If you are still unsure of your future career path (and most people are), try to avoid limiting yourself to schools with minimal degree options, such as art or business schools, or schools that make it difficult to change your major.  Instead, choose a place with a wide variety of majors and spend your first year exploring diverse subject areas while eliminating those that aren’t of any interest to you.

 What kind of social network are you looking to be a part of?

This shouldn’t be a number one priority on your list of things to consider when asking, ‘what college should I go to,” but social networks will be an essential part of your happiness and success throughout your educational career.  Is being social a big part of your life now?  Is it something you want to continue or begin?  Are you certain you want to participate in Greek life?  If your answer is yes to any of these questions, spend some time studying college websites and the organizations they highlight to see where you would best fit in.

Once you’ve made your decision, give your school a chance.  The first few weeks of college can be over stimulating and panic inducing.  Think back to the reasons you made the decision you did, and embrace the new adventure.  These are the years you’ll never forget!

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Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing degrees in communication and psychology. At school, Heidi can be found participating in psychology experiments or lounging on the quad. Outside of school, she enjoys exploring new cities, adventuring with friends, and playing with her puppy, Pancake.
Heidi Meier

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