As a high school student, you’ve probably noticed that nearly everyone is ready to offer advice on choosing a college. Your cousin urges you to attend her school, because she loves it. Your dad wants you to continue the family tradition at his former university. Your mom wants you to choose a school close to home. Your guidance counselor thinks a particular program at the nearby university is perfect for you. On and on it goes. Everyone has their opinions!
Truthfully, it’s usually a good idea to consider all of these viewpoints. These people care about you, and know you well, so their opinions certainly matter. But as you continue to search for the “right” school, make sure you don’t choose it for the wrong reasons. Some of those reasons include…
Following a girlfriend or boyfriend. If a relationship is strong, it will withstand the test of time and distance. But it’s important to remember that most people don’t end up marrying their high school sweethearts these days. You should choose your school because it is truly the right fit for you, and helps you develop into the person you want to be. Any relationship is healthier when both parties have their own separate identities, anyway.
Your love for a particular sports team. Feeling a part of your school’s overall culture is certainly important. But don’t let your love for a sports team sway you toward a school that is otherwise wrong for you. Make sure it is a good fit for more than one reason.
Your parents don’t approve. No one is saying you have to attend the school of your parents’ choice. On the other hand, choosing a school simply because they disapprove would be like shooting yourself in the foot. Your chosen school should have more to offer than a sense of rebellion.
A party reputation. Sure, everyone wants to enjoy their time in college. But you’re going there to get an education and prepare yourself for a career (and life in general). So a reputation as a “party school” should be more of a turn-off than a turn-on.
Cost of tuition. Maybe you don’t want to burden your parents, or you’re worried about your own student loan balance. It’s a great idea to at least consider the cost of a particular school. However, keep in mind that financial aid and scholarships might vary. That small, expensive school that you love might also offer far more opportunities for scholarships and work-study than the larger, cheaper state school that you’re considering by default. Make a list of your preferred schools first, then investigate funding options.
These are just some of the factors that shouldn’t weigh too heavily in your school choice. Check back with us next week, and we’ll discuss some of the factors that are important to consider.