College is an important step into adulthood and the professional world. It is important to choose the right career path for you. More important is choosing the right college. With so many different choices for getting your degree, it is sometimes hard to make a decision. If you make the wrong decision you may set yourself up for failure. When choosing the right school, don’t limit yourself to well known, highly advertised schools. The best school for you should be based on what you need and want. Here are a few tips on how to choose the right school for you.
Know what you want:
Before you can even begin to search for a school, you need to search within yourself. You need to ask yourself the basic questions: What do you want to achieve? What are your goals in life? What major are you planning to pursue? What do you need in order to succeed?
By knowing what you are looking for in a school you can better choose where to look. If you need the support of family and friends, you will know to look closer to home rather than out of state colleges. If you are looking forward to dorm life and discovering who you are, then you will eliminate those without on campus living.
Bigger isn’t always better:
Once you have an idea of which schools match what you are wanting, you can look towards the size you prefer. If you want to experience a large campus where there are thousands of students, then you will look towards the bigger colleges. If you prefer the smaller knitted community schools where everyone knows and supports everyone else, you will want to choose a smaller campus of perhaps 4,000 students.
If you plan to live on campus you will need to be comfortable with your surroundings. The same can be said with the weather, scenery, and people. If you hate snow then you may want to avoid The University of Alaska. By choosing a college with a comfortable climate, you will find yourself happier and more productive.
Don’t listen to rumors:
If you follow the news, listen to your friends or family, or even hear on the streets that the colleges you’re looking at aren’t admitting or are hard to get into, don’t let it stop you. You may start to believe you have no chance, but half the fun of searching for a college is getting accepted when you didn’t think you would. Most colleges are accepting more than they are rejecting.
Talk to the schools, check their websites, or even ask your guidance counselor to see what criteria they are looking for at the colleges you’re interested in. If you build your school profile, you can easily match it against recently accepted students or to the information they give you. If you are still unsure if you meet their criteria, apply anyway. The worst they can say is no.
You don’t have to know to go:
I can speak from experience that you don’t have to be 100% sure of your major to start college. In fact, most students will change their major 3 or 4 times before settling. It takes experience, knowledge and comfort to choose a major and plan the rest of your life. If you have a good idea of what you want to do but are unsure, take the first year of college making up your mind. Asking other students and seeing their coursework will help you choose a major that will best fit you.
Take your time:
As much as your parents would love to see you head off to college and out of their house, you don’t have to rush it. Take your time to visit the schools you are interested in. Get a feel for the grounds, the dorms, the facilities and the type of people you will be coexisting with. If you feel comfortable there, add it to your list.
Just as you can take your time choosing your college, you may also want to take your time going off to college. If you want more time for self-discovery, take a year to evaluate what is important to you. You may even have a better idea of what you would like to major in if you get out into the world and the workforce. Decide if it is time to go or if you need some time to think. It is never too late to go to college.
As you choose your school you will find that some factors are more important to you than others. College is a time for self-exploration, education, and experiencing life before the real world starts. The friendships and acquaintances you make in college can last a lifetime and become a valuable part of your professional network and personal life. Take your time to decide where you feel comfortable and where you can see yourself spending the best 4 years of your life.
Author, Terry Southerland, is a career counselor who writes for thebestdegrees.org, a site providing lists of online degree programs as well as rankings and reviews for many fields, such as online business administration degrees.