What to Consider
You got your acceptance letters, you told all of your loved ones, and you can finally look forward to the next stage in your life–going to college. The excitement of beginning a new chapter is one to be savored as all of the time, work, and effort you invested into your studies has paid off at long last. Next comes the big decision–which school do you choose?
It is common to have a first choice school, particularly one that you strived to attend for quite some time for a number of reasons, and it is common to have a safety net school, one that you are not necessarily eager to attend but one you would consider enrolling into if all else fails. That being said, due to the sheer volume of applications and steadily decreasing acceptance rates for more prestigious schools it is best to prepare for rejections as well. Applying for a wide variety of colleges and universities that appeal to you will greatly increase your chances of attending a school that matches your academic pursuits and personal interests.
Factors to consider when choosing a college to attend include the academic programs, extracurricular options, work opportunities, school population, the campus in relation to the surrounding area, and your personal connection to the school. Answering the following questions will help you greatly deduce the school that suits you best:
- Does this school offer the specific major or minor that I want to pursue? If not, does it offer another major that I can switch into?
- Does this school have a wide variety of clubs, organizations, events, and extracurricular activities for me to choose from?
- Do I prefer a large student population with more people for me to meet or do I prefer a small population that is more close-knit?
- Would I be able to walk to stores, restaurants, cafes, bus stops, banks, or any other place that I may frequently visit?
- Can I picture myself walking around the campus, going to class, and making friends here?
What to Avoid
While the excitement of choosing a college or university can sway your decision, it is important to take a moment to recognize any red flags before getting ahead of yourself. Carefully weighing your options lowers the chances of potentially regretting enrolling into a school, especially when this should be an exhilarating decision above all else.
A factor to avoid is going to the same school as a friend simply because they are planning on attending that school. It is tempting to make the decision based off of a friendship, especially since it can be fun envisioning taking the next step into early adulthood with someone dear to you, or even if the emotional bond with that person is not particularly strong it can be soothing to see a familiar face on campus and someone to meet up with if socializing becomes overwhelming. However, this phase in your life is for you and no one else. On top of which, it is important to avoid going to a school because of family expectations which is a common experience for young adults. Incoming college students share a similar sentiment of sincerely wanting to make their families proud for a number of reasons such as feeling as though they owe a great deal to their loved ones. While this can be a strong driving force in academic pursuits, this next phase in one’s life only happens once and every student deserves the opportunity to explore their interests regardless of where it takes them. Families shape us as do our individual experiences which should be savored in the moment as an independent person.