As much as we all wish it were true, there is no single path for deciding where to go to college. Each student is unique and has different preferences about where they want to go. That’s why you should focus on making the decision that is right for you and your specific situation. You want to choose the school that is right for your own needs, not what your parents or friends are telling you to choose. That being said, how do you know which college is right for you? Where should you begin?
Start off your search by creating a list of schools. Keep in mind that it is easier to make a big list now and narrow it down as you go along, rather than adding schools down the road. There are several criteria to consider. We suggest sitting down with your parents and explaining your preferences to them while taking note of what is most important to you.
1. Type of College
You should begin by evaluating which type of institution you would like to attend. Do your goals include a two or four year school?
How far from home are you comfortable being? Would you like to attend a school that is in-state or outside of your home state? Keep in mind that you and your parents may have differing opinions on this topic, and that’s ok. Try to keep an open mind and understand your options. Don’t assume you have to stay close to home if that’s not what you want to do.
3. Campus Setting
What size of school are you comfortable with? This includes class sizes, the size of the physical campus, and of course the population of the student body. Would you prefer a more rural campus or urban campus or something in between? Sometimes, the best way to evaluate campus setting is to simply understand the “feel of campus” through a campus tour or even an admitted student event. Campus setting is important to daily life while you are at school, so definitely spend some time considering it.
For many families, the costs of college can be one of the scariest aspects of the college search, but it doesn’t have to be. The uncertainty associated with paying for college can be avoided by knowing the facts.
When applying to colleges, it is important to understand the school’s rules and regulations regarding tuition and financial aid, especially when considering in-state versus out-of-state tuition costs. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be tens of thousands of dollars. Consider going to college in your home state, but if you do want to travel out-of-state, know that it is possible to gain in-state tuition at many “out-of-state” colleges. You will likely face a lot of red tape in establishing yourself as a state resident, but if you’re sincere about your intention to live there, it is absolutely possible.
For those that are interested in establishing in-state residency, In-State Angels is an organization dedicated to helping sincere applicants throughout the process. They help students safely navigate the treacherous bureaucracy as fast and effortlessly as possible.
Does the school have what you are interested in studying? It is important that you like their academic programs and major, but don’t put too much weight in one exact major. Keep in mind that you will likely change your mind once, twice, or even a few times about your desired career and major. But that’s what college is all about, so don’t panic.
6. Learning environment
Do you learn best when you are in an academically challenging environment, or a more comfortable one? There is no right answer to this question; it is all about your personal preferences. Would you rather take small classes or are you ok with big lectures?
One of the most important tips to keep in mind is not to rush the process. This is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ve been faced with so far in life, so take your time and do your research. College may seem like a four year decision, but it will likely affect the rest of your life, so consider these factors carefully.
About the Author
Jake Wells founded In-State Angels in 2009 after graduating from the University of Colorado-Boulder with more debt than seemed reasonable. He is on a mission to prevent others from suffering a similar fate, and now advises students on how to get in-state tuition in the fastest way legally possible.