Many factors are involved in choosing the college or university that best suits an individual’s needs. Students must consider degree programs, facilities, costs, location and other issues.
Reaching the right decision can lead to a quality education and successful career. The following are recommendations for college searches offered by various experts.
Make a List
The first step is to write down all the nearby institutions of higher learning, and perhaps others of interest. Some people do not want to even look at a school that is far away because of financial concerns and other considerations. Going to school close to home saves money due to shorter trips back and forth. If a college is within commuting range, it is possible to avoid room-and-board costs.
That said, a student at a hometown school may not get the full university experience that comes with living on campus. Getting away from parents
and old friends forces a person to meet new people and adapt to unfamiliar situations. Students who leave home for the first time must learn how to handle money, shop for groceries, feed themselves and wash their own clothes. Many life lessons are learned on college campuses.
Begin the search early, keeping in mind deadlines for the schools’ admissions applications. The list can be shortened by learning which colleges offer degrees in a student’s chosen field of study. Other schools may be scratched off by deciding whether to attend a small college or large university. A community college will likely feature smaller class sizes and more personalized education. On the other hand, a major university has a wider range of degree programs and activities.
Compare and Rank Colleges
More institutions can be eliminated from consideration by doing additional research. Several organizations compile college-rating lists every year, ranking schools in numerous categories. Tuition and other fees, as well as room-and-board expenses, vary widely. The more expensive colleges are not affordable for many people, though the costs may be offset by scholarships and financial aid.
Students need to know whether they are academically eligible to attend a certain school. Colleges have different requirements for ACT and SAT scores. There also is a range of class sizes and faculty qualifications. Students with special needs, such as a physical disability or learning disorder, need to find institutions with the necessary policies, programs and facilities.
For some, extracurricular activities are important. There are sports and other recreational opportunities, as well as clubs devoted to certain interests. Getting the most out of college entails more than the classroom experience.
However, the quality of education is a critical factor. Information is available concerning the academic performance of a school’s students, and about the sorts of jobs graduates find. Teaching methods and philosophies are not the same everywhere. Either are policies regarding matters such as grades, safety and discipline.
Make a Decision
People can rank the colleges on their lists in all of these categories to whittle down the possibilities. Experts advise students to do their own research, rather than relying on schools’ reputations or the recommendations of family and friends. Picking a college is an individual choice that no one can make for someone else.
Before reaching a final decision, campus tours are recommended. This step can be time-consuming and involve travel costs, so it should not be taken until only a few schools remain on the list. During the visits, a prospective student should meet administrators and professors, talk to students already enrolled there, and check out the facilities. The social and political climate is a big factor for many people.