Last week, we shared some of the mistakes students often make when choosing a college. This week, we’re focusing on the things you should do. Throughout the last part of your junior year of high school, and especially into your senior year, it’s time to narrow your options and finally commit to a university. These steps should help with that process.
Academic programs. Many college freshman haven’t even picked a major yet, so a school with a wide range of academic opportunities might be best. However, if you’re dead set on majoring in a particular field, then it’s okay to choose a college based on that. Just make sure that other elements of the school also feel like a good fit for you. You want to be happy with your overall experience.
Scholarship offerings. It’s usually a bad idea to choose a school based solely on cost. However, if several schools have made it onto your “short list”, at this point you should consider the expenses. If you can’t decide between School A and School B, the fact that School B offers you a free ride should probably weigh heavily in your decision. A good financial aid package can help you to graduate without the heavy burden of student loans.
Evaluate support services. How large is the school’s career center? Does the school host job fairs? What is the ratio of advisors to students? Does the school offer support services that you might need, such as math tutoring, a writing center, or supports for students with special needs?
Campus culture. Aside from academics, it’s important to ask yourself what type of campus culture interests you. You might prefer a school with many performing arts opportunities, or a campus with a diverse range of political groups. At some schools, most students live off campus, while the dorm life is standard at others. On some campuses students tend to go home on weekends, while other environments encourage weekend activities. It’s important to investigate the culture of the campus, to see if it fits your needs and preferences.
Visit the campus. One of the best ways to evaluate schools is to visit them. Schedule several trips, if you can, and look into the possibility of an overnight visit.
For more information on getting into the college of your choice, give us a call. We want to help you succeed in high school and beyond.