Selecting a college is the kind of decision to take seriously as it involves a lot of factors. These factors include location, fit, cost, postgraduate success, and other aspects that will shape the college experience of a student. Beyond that, the college choice will influence daily life, extracurricular opportunities, friendships on and off-campus. Considering the weight of this decision to make, an applicant should take a serious look at what they want out of a school before selecting that university. Here are expert tips to help students weigh every aspect of a college once that acceptance letter arrives.
Find the right fit.
You want to feel comfortable where you’re enrolling as you color many aspects of your life. Finding a college you can embrace will serve you well as it will be your home for the next four years. Going to a college that’s the right fit for you will also make your transition to college easier.
Explore campus beyond the tour.
Campus tours are often led by enthusiastic student ambassadors and also an experience curated by the college. They are informative and a great way to see much of the campus and hear about it from the perspective of a student. However, they are not all-encompassing. You should seek out other stops and students. Spend extra time on campus and pay attention to the students. Stop a few students, talk to them, and let them know that you’re a prospective student. Ask a few questions to students on the campus. If for some reason, physical college visits aren’t possible, you should consider alternatives, such as virtual tours.
Know that extracurricular opportunities may vary.
Think about the type of experience you want from campus life. The chances of joining a sailing team at a college in Kansas are likely pretty low. The same for mountaineering in New Your City. And if you like frat parties and football games, a small liberal arts college may not right for you. If a sizeable Greek presence or a good football team is important to you, then choose a school with those opportunities. However, it is also equally important to consider the academic program or ranked school.
Factor in legacy admissions
Family ties may help you land that acceptance letter. Many critics argue that legacy admission offers an unfair advantage to children of privilege and destroys equity efforts at colleges. But if you’re interested, you can benefit from your parent’s alma mater. Some schools may have scrapped the process of legacy admission entirely, but it’s a factor worth exploring as the boost offered by it varies by college. Family ties may also help you have that familiarity with a campus.
Understand the consequences of debt.
Consider schools that are the best value for you. Do extensive research when considering the cost of the colleges that accepted you and which college has the best value in both quality and price. If a scholarship has been offered, carefully research its conditions. While the typical amount of debt may be worth it when considering postgraduate earnings, you still need to make those calculations ahead of time. Consider short-term and long-term finances. Some loans may follow you into your 30s and 40s, so you need to consider the consequences of debt carefully to avoid a commitment over many years.
While you should take the college search seriously, you can make it fun too. You just need to think that finding and attending college is more of an investment in yourself rather than a choice. Do what’s best for you and commit to excelling at this opportunity you have been given. You can only perform at your best in a college where you can give your best during your higher education experience.