Right now can be a difficult time of year for seniors. Trying to manage school work, after school activities, and other commitments adds up fast, so adding the college selection process onto everything else can seem daunting. Rather than stressing over finding the right school, use these tips to ease your navigation:
- Location, Location, Location: Figure out how far you want to go for school, and try to set a proximity from your house when looking at schools. Don’t just think of states or wide areas, but see how many hours (by plane, car, or whatever transportation you will use) it will take to get to your destination. Having a rough idea of how far you will go will help slim your choices down quickly.
- Check to see if the school offers your major: Even better, use search engines and college finders online to only see schools that offer the majors you want. You would be surprised how many schools do not offer certain majors. Also, some schools are better known for certain majors over others.
- ALWAYS check the dorms: If you are particular about a certain type of living style, check to see what type of living options the school offers. Larger schools tend to have a wide variety of living arrangements, but smaller schools may have fewer options. Also, make sure you are looking at freshmen dorms. Many schools love to profile their renovated and newly built dorms, but those are usually for upperclassmen.
- Look at the size of the school: Schools can be small, with only a few hundred students, to as large as tens of thousands of students. Seriously consider how small or large a place you feel comfortable living in. It may sound great to leave your small town for a large college, but you may feel left out. Conversely, going to a smaller school may mean fewer options for sports, academics, and other activities.
- Financial aid: The sooner you learn about financial aid, the better. Every school has different types of aid programs and scholarships. Some expensive Ivy League and liberal arts programs may look impossible to afford, but many have great scholarship programs. This is an important piece of the college equation to keep in mind, but know that most schools will not present a financial package to you until you have been accepted.
- Once you find your top places, visit them: Visiting the school is the best way to discover the true environment of it. Try to think of your most important questions before you get there, and don’t be afraid to ask them if the guide does not go over something you wanted to hear about. Take a few minutes to walk around by yourself too. See if you are comfortable at the school and can picture yourself being a part of it.
Although it may seem impossible to get through all these steps, many of them come down to simple preference. There is no right or wrong in this process. It is all up to you and what you want. Make sure to reach out to friends, families, and teachers if you need some more ideas, but know that it is your path and your decisions. Good luck finding the right place for you!