What Is The Best College For Me?

When looking at potential colleges, it can be difficult to figure out which campuses compliment your personality and preferences.

If you are more reserved and laid back, maybe a small, private university suits you best, as you gain more one-on-one time with professors and staff members to ensure your academic success.

Or maybe you have an internal desire to come out of your shell, meet tons of new people and simply reinvent yourself over the next four years. If this is the case, then a large university with a highly-populated student body is right for you.

With so many college campuses to select from all across the country (and some even overseas). This leaves a lot of students wondering: What is the best college for me?

How do you choose?

Well, I don’t want to be too far away from home…

If you’re like me, you place tremendous value on family as they have constantly supported you your entire life. They never stopped helping you get to this point, and it would be too difficult to live so far away from them.

However, you also don’t want to miss out on the true independence of college life. Because of my strong familial ties I chose a university that is just an hour plane flight (or seven-hour drive) away from home.

This way, I am able to be self-sufficient and have an incredible college experience and still visit my family for holidays and special occasions.

A lot of first-year students have a tough time acclimating to the independent college lifestyle. You now have to do everything on your own. This includes preparing meals, doing laundry and completing homework assignments on time.

If you have a close relationship with your family and cringe at the thought of only seeing them twice a year, then a university closer to home is a better option. Even with a few hours distance, you can still get the full autonomous college experience while spending quality time with your family on weekends.

Math and science just aren’t my thing. Which universities have prestigious liberal arts and/or writing programs?

So you know you’re not going to be a heart surgeon or a rocket scientist (which is totally fine!), but you did have a passion for writing and history in high school. Why not pursue that fervor at a university that specializes in those particular areas of study?

Liberal arts colleges, while smaller on the scale of campus size, are regarded as some of the most prestigious universities in the United States. These schools place emphasis on general intellectual knowledge and participation in contrast to vocational and technical curriculum.

A smaller campus and student body also means more one-on-one time with professors, an enormous benefit that larger universities do not receive. The towns surrounding the campuses are also quaint and welcoming, making your college experience even more enjoyable.

If you are interested in writing, politics, philosophy or cultural/religious studies, then the following universities are the best choice for you (Top 5 ranked in order according to US News):

  • Williams College – Williamstown, Massachusetts
  • Amherst College – Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Swarthmore College – Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
  • Middlebury College – Middlebury, Vermont
  • Pomona College – Claremont, California

For me, college is about getting involved in as many athletic and extracurricular activities as possible.

Do you love sports? Are you eager to cheer on your school’s football team so loud and obnoxiously that you can’t utter a word the next morning?

You have heard of those big-shot athletic colleges (i.e. LSU, Ohio State, Alabama, USC), and you desperately want to be in those massive stadiums going wild with your student section.

Universities with renowned athletic programs are not only extremely fun and entertaining, but they have excellent academic programs that also receive recurrent national recognition.

Stanford University in Palo Alto, California has an outstanding number of athletic achievements, both on team and individual levels. It is also one of the hardest schools to get into because of its educational requirements.

If you are looking forward to the rivalries and championship games of particular large universities, here are a few schools that are constantly recognized as having the most competitive and engaging student sections at basketball games according to collegehoops.net (these guys get LOUD):

  • Duke University, Durham, NC
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL
  •  University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

Academics are a huge priority for me, but my social life is also extremely important.

Almost all universities have a Greek system (sororities and fraternities) that allow students to frequently socialize with each other and build new relationships with ease. But which campuses are known for their social networking?

If you wish to exponentially increase your circle of friends, I recommend choosing a university with a larger campus and student body. Joining a sorority or fraternity is a great way to meet new people and get involved in an array of campus activities.

A few examples of these colleges are:

  • Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
  • University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

I want to experience something completely different. JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE.

If you just want to reinvent yourself and experience an entirely different culture in college, take a look at colleges on the opposite side of the country.

Not far enough? There are numerous international universities that are known for their exceptional academics, such as Oxford in southern England, or Heidelberg University in Germany.

Although this is a pretty extreme decision for most students, it is definitely a good option for those looking to expand their knowledge of the world as early in life as possible.

So as you continue to try and answer the question, what is the best college for me?, remember that no matter which university you choose, it’s all about having the experience of your life. As long as you are happy, college will be simply wonderful.

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Megan Heneghan

Megan Heneghan

Megan Heneghan is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, as well as a Spanish minor. She is originally from Orange County, where she grew up playing tennis. She is currently a member of the UC Davis Women’s Tennis Team. When she is not studying, she enjoys singing, reading, and cooking all different kinds of food. She also loves spending time with friends and family.
Megan Heneghan

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