You’re about to make one of the most important decisions in your life and it is certainly impacting your future. The college that you go to and the major that you choose will both give you certain professional opportunities in the years to come. This is why you need to take some time and think about the possibilities rather than rush the decision.
What does it take to choose the right college? Apart from obviously examining the reputation of the university, you’ll also need to take a look at several additional factors that will paint a complete picture about the quality of the education.
The first and probably the most important consideration isn’t financial. It focuses on the available majors and the college curricula.
The websites of colleges provide enough information about the academic programs, the college’s traditions in each, the reputation of the faculty and the particular courses that students will take.
You can easily figure out whether a certain university has better established traditions in the liberal arts or the scientific fields. Depending on the niche that you’re most interested in, you can eliminate a number of options and focus the research on the other possibilities.
Location and Campus
The location of the university is a practical consideration that happens to be important. How far away from home are you willing to go in order to obtain your education? Traveling to a distant part of the country may be cumbersome, plus it will lead to additional expenditure.
If you want to live at home to benefit from the comfort and the reduced accommodation cost, you’ll certainly have to stick to colleges that are located a driving distance away.
If you want to live on campus, you’ll have to check the facilities. Do you like the campus itself, the student rooms, the number of people that will have to share a room and the additional living facilities? Keep in mind that you’ll be spending all your time there, so make sure that the place is the right one.
Cost and Financial Aid Possibilities
Take a look both at the tuition fees and the financial assistance options.
Many students dismiss colleges immediately after seeing the tuition fees listed on the university’s website. These numbers, however, aren’t set in stone. It’s possible to reduce the amount significantly by having a stellar score on the exams or by applying for a certain financial assistance program.
You may want to talk to college admission, in order to figure out what kinds of financial aid you’ll be eligible for. Consider a student loan, as well.
Finally, remember that you’re investing in your education and your future. Spending a bit more on a certain college program may give you access to better professional opportunities upon graduation. Spending a bit more on this kind of program makes financial sense in the long run.
Talk to Alumni and Professors
It’s very easy to locate university alumni nowadays. Professional social networks like LinkedIn give you a lot of information about a person’s academic background.
Get in touch with alumni and ask some questions about the college experience and their professional journey. Are the majority of alumni successful? Did they manage to realize their professional goal? This is some of the most important information that you’ll ever get about the college.
If you want to, you may also get in touch with some of the faculty members. Most of the professors will be willing to answer your questions and guide you through the process.
Extracurricular Activities and Student Life
The final aspect of choosing the right college focuses on student life and extracurricular activities. Going to college isn’t all about the classes. You can gain a lot of practical experience by joining different clubs and student organizations.
If you want to become a journalist, for example, make sure that the college has a well-established student newspaper or television channel. Though these are considered extracurricular activities, they can provide a lot of experience that will be helpful during the job search process.
You should also have access to facilities like a gym, a photography lab, a science lab or anything else that will help you improve your academic skills.
Keep an open mind when looking at colleges. If you narrow it down right from the start, you may feel disappointed by the options and conditions provided by the few universities you’re considering. Having a larger pool of options to pick among can certainly give you some surprisingly good possibilities.