How To Find The Perfect College For You

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How To Find The Perfect College For You

Seniors, as you consider where you’re going to spend your next few years, remember this mantra by Frank Bruni, author of,Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be.” You will still be you, and what you do and how you handle challenges and opportunities represents who you are, not the sticker on the back of your car. So, choose and find the perfect college for you, and use these tips to help you with that decision.

The first thing to consider is the academic offerings at the institution:

  • Does it have your program or alternatives in case you change majors? (Statistically, over 50% of you will.)
  • How easy is it to change majors if you are uncertain as to your declared major?
  • Does it have great advising? Did you find it easily on campus?
  • How is the career center? Does it have lots of access to internships and research?
  • Are there specific General Ed requirements (a.k.a. core curriculum) or academic clusters?
  • Are you accepted directly into your major or is there pre-work for 2 years before you are formally admitted to your program? (Most notably in nursing, engineering and business).
  • Is there a senior thesis requirement (and do you want to do one)?

Then, it’s time to visit. Never choose a college without setting foot on campus:

  • Do the admitted student’s day.
  • Get a calendar of orientation, registration, schools terms.
  • Sit in on a class.
  • Meet a professor or two in your major/area of interest.
  • Meet the advising staff – how do you get credit for an AP or college credits you’ve earned in high school? Where are the career and tutoring centers?
  • Eat at an on campus cafeteria and hang out in the student union. You’ll be eating and hanging out for 4 years if all goes well!!!  Ask at the admissions office if they have complimentary tickets for the cafeteria.
  • Do an overnight.
  • Tour the surrounding area (inexpensive places to eat off campus, public transportation, is it safe, can you get to the grocery store, how will you get home?).

While there:

  • Eavesdrop – what are the students talking about?
  • Are there visible cliques or do groups seem to be integrating well?
  • Are students’ heads down or are they engaged in conversation (if their heads are down remember, it might be mid-terms or finals time).
  • Do students “grab and go” or “stay and gab” in cafeterias?
  • Talk to students, ask them about their school, what major, what they like and dislike. Most of them will be happy to talk to you.

Other items to think about and rank according to importance to you:

  • Location
  • Ease getting to and from campus
  • School Size
  • Class size
  • Housing – learn how roommates are chosen
  • Student diversity
  • Clubs and Greek Life – do students have similar interests to yours?
  • Financing your education – are there any hidden costs?

As you research all of these components, start to compare your schools. Are there any compelling reasons to attend each institution or conversely, any big red flags? What is your gut instinct telling you? Take your time and trust yourself. If you are still undecided when you return from your visits, find a trusted advisor to review your options and gain objective feedback.

Once you’ve decided, and after you’ve put down your deposit on your chosen school, make sure you notify the other schools you were accepted to that you decided not to attend. This will allow those schools to make waitlist decisions and allow anxious students an opportunity at their dreams. Lastly, gear up and start the countdown to your new home!


© A College Crew Blog

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