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When choosing a college what is the most important thing to look at?

I am so lost.... Should I be looking at the cost, scholarships offered, distance, size??? collegehelp

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Austin’s Answer

Hi Sariah,

Really great question. Choosing a college and applying is a big decision to make and I know that I was completely overwhelmed my senior year trying to decide which school that I wanted to apply to. There are so many colleges out there and I found myself liking more than just one. When looking at schools you are going to have to look at a multitude of factors which should help you narrow the list and focus you.


Cost, campus, culture, major program, social life, distance, size, and reputation are just some of the many factors that you should be considering before you apply. You will likely be spending four years at this school and you want to be sure that it is the right fit. There is nothing wrong with transferring schools if it doesn't work out, but you can save yourself the stress of transferring if you put in the effort in the beginning. Go to the college's website and read the whole thing. Look at the majors they offer, student testimonials, the cost of attending, the kinds of dorms you'd be living in etc. This will help you gain a better picture of what the university is like.


I know that I searched student reviews online to get a student perspective of what the university was like. This helped me better understand the kinds of experiences that current students had which better informed my notion of what to expect when attending. I bought a few college books that gave brief descriptions of almost every accredited university and rated them on a variety of metrics. Going on a college visit is a great idea as you will be able to experience the university first hand.


It's not easy, but you are going to have to look at many factors when choosing a college. You should ask yourself what's important to you, what are things you don't like, and what are things that you do like. Use these factors and apply them to when you choose a specific university.


I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!!


Best,

Austin

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Bianca’s Answer

Hi Sariah — there's no "correct" answer to this question, but rather, personal preference. When I was applying for colleges, my top three factors were (1) reputation/strength within my program of interest (2) location and (3) scholarship availability. Looking back, since I ended up going to graduate school, I would put scholarship availability at the very top of the list — student debt is no joke these days and I recommend prioritizing getting the most financial aid that you can get. Location is important, too, because college is stressful — you want to be in an area that makes you happy and somewhere where you can create a good work-life balance that suits your personality/interests. For some, this means being closer to home; For others, this means going somewhere exciting; Or maybe it means being at a college that offers the best program for your field, which is fulfilling in itself. All that is up to you and will require a lot of soul-searching. I'm from San Diego and I took baby-steps: I did my undergrad in Los Angeles, because I didn't feel ready to leave the state or the gorgeous California weather! Then, once I graduated, I took the leap and moved cross-country to earn my master's degree in New York City (big difference!). Make a list of priorities and that will help narrow down — remember that your happiness will play a big role in performing well in school. Put that above all.

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Estelle’s Answer

All of the above are excellent points to consider. When thinking about cost, you could always decrease cost of a more expensive school by applying for scholarships and taking summer courses at a community college.
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Abigail’s Answer

Hi Sariah!

While there are lots of important things, the most important things all boil down to FIT. Think about how you fit within the school, whether majors you are considering are offered, the cost of the school vs. your budget, how you feel in that type of town (do you like cities? can't wait to leave the city?),etc.


It's an overwhelming processes, but believe it or not, there's a lot of great places you can fit in, for university, but also in life. Humans are remarkably flexible people, you have the power to be happy at any school you end up at. I didn't end up at my first choice, but I found people, a good major, and a great community even so.

Good luck!

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