Choosing a college is part science: making sure students have the academic major or extracurricular activities of their choice in the location they like and with the opportunities they seek. But choosing the “right” school for students is also very much an art. We often see students who search the Internet and find a place that, by all counts, seems to be the perfect fit only to find that they just aren’t really jazzed by it once they get to campus. Similarly, a student will visit a place about which they were lukewarm in their initial research only to fall in love with it once they visit.
Although there’s no magic formula for choosing a college, we can help you start by asking you some questions that help most students find the right fit.
Most students start by thinking about the kind of college they want to attend. As you do so, keep in mind that you have lots of options.
- Do you want to go to a two-year or four-year college? At a two-year college, students can earn an associate degree. At a four-year college, students can earn a bachelor’s degree.
- Do you want to stick to a setting you are used to or try something new?
- Do you see yourself at a college with lots of students or in a smaller community?
- Do you want to be at a college where students stay on campus most of the time?
- Do you want to live in a dorm?
- Do you want to be around lots of different kinds of people or people with interests similar to yours?
- Do you want to be at a school where sports are a big deal? Or one that’s known for its activism? Or for its hard-working students?
- Do you have the facts about what colleges will cost?
- Will you qualify for financial aid? All students should apply for aid, whether or not they think they will qualify. Most students get financial help from the government or the college itself.
- Are you eligible for scholarships? Certain characteristics or accomplishments might qualify students for private or college scholarships that award money they do not have to pay back.