Selecting a college can be one of the most important and fun experiences of a student’s high school career. Becoming educated on college options takes time. Don’t wait until the fall of your senior year to decide where you will apply; it’s a stressful enough time as it is. Generate a potentially broad list of 15 to 20 schools which you will then research in depth. Explore their websites! Attend a College Visit at Uni! Talk to college alumni! Talk to your parents! Talk to your counselor! Visit the campuses!
| At the end of your college search you should come up with a list of 8-10 colleges to which you will apply. In addition to your first choice “dream” school(s) which may be a reach for you, be sure to include a few “target” schools where you stand a greater chance of acceptance, and at least one “safety” school where you know you would likely be admitted and you would enjoy attending. Remember, Community College transfer programs are always an option too.
How do you find the right college for you?
Selecting the college that is right for you can be an overwhelming task unless you study the differences between colleges and establish your personal priorities in regards to your college experience. Factors which are usually considered in selecting a college include the following:
Size – Size of colleges range from very small (500 students) to very large (>35,000 students)
Location – Some students prefer to attend college close to home while others want to experience a new environment and would be able to adjust and function as well or better farther away.
Type – Colleges are either privately or publicly funded. Private colleges may or may not be religiously affiliated which may add certain expectations for students who attend that college.
Cost – This includes tuition, fees, room and board, and travel expenses. Tuition at state-supported schools is substantially lower than that of private schools. Students who wish to attend out-of-state public schools pay out-of-state tuition fees, which in most cases equate with tuition at a private institution. However, private institutions often provide significantly more financial aid.
Admission Requirements – In addition to presenting acceptable scores on entrance exams, some colleges require a certain number of units in high school preparatory courses, as well as essays, recommendations, or interviews.
Curriculum and Degrees Offered – A sizable consideration for choosing a college should be the availability of adequate programs in the area you intend to study, as well as the requirements for achieving a degree in your major at that particular college.
Honors – Distinctive academic programs may be available to students who meet requirements.
Facilities – Some students are interested in the quality of the facilities, including classrooms, laboratories, libraries, residence halls, etc.
Financial Aid – Along with federal and state aid, many colleges offer institutional aid to bridge the gap. Some private colleges even offer financial aid that places the cost in line with that of public colleges.
Extra-Curricular Activities – The college should offer a variety of activities which are of interest to you, e.g., student government, social organizations, athletic or intramural activities, etc.
Family Tradition – Your family may have strong ties to a particular college.