Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. How can you feel confident that you’re picking the right school for you?
There are many factors that go into deciding if a college is a good match. In this video, we share six factors that you should weigh when deciding where to earn your degree. After carefully considering each, the decision about where to make your academic home for the next four years should become more clear.
How to choose a college
When deciding on a college or university, there are six core areas you may find useful to consider for each college on your list, which will help you pick the college that's right for you.
First, career. Your college choice should align with your academic and career goals. It's a package deal. Research the specifics of the major you're interested in, ensuring it's the right program to lead you toward the career you want.
Consider the faculty. Are they experts in their field?
Student success resources. Are they robust?
Internship opportunities. Does the school offer internships or help you find one?
Advanced degree opportunities. Can you take your education to the next level?
Job placement services. Will the school help you find a job after graduation?
Alumni networks. Do they have a thriving alumni community?
Second, academics. It's important to make sure the quality of education a college offers is what you expect. Is the coursework rigorous enough to challenge you and help you grow? Will it engage and inspire you? If you'll be pursuing an online degree, will you get the support and resources you need? Third, health and wellness. College academics will take a lot of your time and energy, but it's also important to make sure you're aware of what campus is like beyond the tour, whether virtual or in person. You'll want to find the right fit by getting to know what your daily life will be like on and off campus so you feel comfortable in your new home.
Are there on-campus or nearby fitness and health care facilities to support positive health and well-being? Is the campus nestled in a quiet community or within the hustle and bustle of big city life? Think about whether campus life and the surrounding area fit with your lifestyle vision.
Fourth, financial. College debt is no small matter. Paying back college loans can delay future financial success. Weigh college costs and do vigilant research on tuition rates and financial aid packages for each school you're considering. Be aware of the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. And remember, it's not just tuition and fees you have to look at. Consider expenses for books, living, transportation, entertainment and anything else you'll spend money on.
Fifth, social. Consider social opportunities offered, like sporting events, lectures and other extra curricular activities. Does the school offer a wide variety of student clubs and organizations? They're a great way to get involved. Will you have the opportunity to pledge your favorite fraternity or sorority, or cheer on the team in a roaring football stadium? What about intramural sports you might be interested in joining? If these opportunities are important to you, make sure they exist at the university you choose.
And finally, values. Think about what university values are important to you. Do they practice sustainability? How do they respond to student issues? Are they a good partner in their community? A bit of online research should answer these questions and more. You might seek or get input from family and friends. That's a good thing — and you should consider it carefully. But ultimately, the final choice is yours. How do you land on the right decision? The right decision is the one that's best for you. Do your research and go with your instincts.