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How will I know when a university is right for me? What if I make the wrong decision? #Fall22

I fear that I won't have a gut feeling anywhere, what if none of them are right?

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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Doc’s Answer

Mia it's up to you to determine which factors are most important for your lifestyle and what you hope to get out of your higher education. Once you've identified these factors, you can create a shortlist of schools and begin researching them. Choosing a college that can help you achieve both your personal and professional goals is critical to your success.

Once you have a list of schools, it's time to do research. To learn more about the colleges you're considering, check out college guidebooks and the colleges' websites.
During your search, keep asking yourself questions about your preferences and goals. You continue to evolve throughout high school. Your answers to "What college fits me?" may change during the search process.

Remember that there are many good college matches for every student, and you can be successful at many types of schools.

Hope this was helpful Mia
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Diane’s Answer

Hi Mia, I assume you have done your research on which colleges/universities interest you (If so, did you take time to speak with other students, admissions office, and/or professors to get a feel for the school? Did you take time to investigate the financial cost, academic support, social support and safety the school offers? Does the school meet your academic and social wants/needs? If you have done all of this then write down a list for each school's pros/cons and drill down from there. Is a smaller, more intimate school setting more comfortable for you or do you thrive on the hustle/bustle and bigger class size of a larger university? It may take another visit to the school(s) if you are on the fence to gain better perspective on which school will best fit your long term plans. Best of luck!
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Fred’s Answer

The decision of what school to go to is extremely complicated, but it's also extremely personal. Only you can know what school is right for you.

There are many factors to consider, all of which will be given different weight by different people. For me, going to a school closer to home was more important than one with a large sports program. You may feel the opposite.

Some of the factors to consider are (these are in no particular order)
1) Distance from home
2) Size
3) Reputation
4) Cost
5) Scholarships offered
6) Urban/rural location
7) Access to off campus events (shopping, movies, parks, restaurantsand on and on..)
8) Campus life

Consider visiting a few. When I was in school, they let potential freshmen come and visit for a weekend, staying in a room with student volunteers. Almost any school will have some kind of program to show off the school to potential students.

Finally, if you enroll at a school and hate it, you can often transfer to another one. You'd still have to get accepted at the new school, and some of your classes may not count, but it can be done.
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Dan’s Answer

Hi Mia- Your question is a very important one. It is also not uncommon, for students to feel as you do, when making such a big decision, as to what is the best/right college to attend. I would suggest that you make a list of perhaps 5-10 non-negotiables, the things that are essential requirements for meeting your needs, in choosing a particular school to attend . Once you have researched and made a list(3-5 schools would be a good start) of those schools that meet your list of non-negotiables, you should then consider setting up school visitations. Your visit will be a key factor in making your final decisions, of which school(s) seem most appropriate for you to attend. Every college campus you visit will impress you, good or bad, with its own personality. I have walked on some campuses and wanted to immediately get back in my car and drive home. Then there were other campuses, I immediately fell in love with. Talking to as many students as you can and with people who work in various offices(Student development, admissions, registrar, career services etc.) will give you a greater sense of the school 's personality and if its a good fit for you. Have lots of questions ready to ask everyone you speak with on your visit. Find out what they like most about and what they like least about the school. The professors, particularly those in your anticipated major, are very important, as you will be spending a lot of time in their classes, during your four years. Find out from them and others on campus where their graduates end up going after graduation (ie; grad school, careers, companies etc.). The transition of going off to college, no doubt, can be a very exciting as well as a stressful one. Putting in the necessary effort now, should significantly reduce your stress/anxiety later, knowing that at the end of the process, you will have made an excellent/ well informed decision, one that will give you a real sense of peace and personal satisfaction. I wish you the very best in your decision making and with all your future endeavors.
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Mara’s Answer

It's okay to not have a gut feeling! Remember that going to a new school is always going to be an adjustment and it's okay to be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. Some of the advice above about considering your major, size, location are great factors to consider. There are going to be a plethora of other students in the same boat as you wherever you choose so just remember that you're not alone!
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Sarah’s Answer

Hi, Mia!

I'm Sarah! I remember feeling this way, so I totally get it! I knew what I wanted to study, but didn't know where I wanted to spend that next four years of my life. It is such an exciting time but can be very scary too with all of the uncertainty and change. I highly recommend finding schools with vastly different campuses and environments - small campuses, large campuses, campuses in the city, not in the city, ones close to home and not close to home, with lots of student life or quieter student life, and then physically visiting them (if you can) to see which feels the best.

It is also okay to take a gap year/semester if you don't get that gut feeling that you'd like to feel before picking a school and you can take the time to figure out exactly what you'd like to do and where. Alternatively, college or university is not the only option out there. These are big decisions to make, but you will make the right one for yourself. There is so much time in life to figure out your way. Do your research (there are so many resources out there for this time in your life- here is a great start) and make an educated decision! Everything works out in the end, even if it isn't what you originally planned for.

Best of luck!!
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Mia,

As a person who went to five universities before I eventually graduated, I totally understand what you are asking. I would say that there are a lot of factors into what you consider a fit - all of which are personal to you. In my case, I needed the flexibility of classes offered and when since I was working full time through most of school. I will say this - be sure to be knowledgeable about how transferrable your credits are if you go to one school and then don't like it. You should not be afraid of changing schools. You should never go anywhere you are uncomfortable. My biggest regret was that I paid so much money for credits that could not transfer.

The first year of university is going to be difficult, stressful, and confusing. Do not confuse those feelings with there being something wrong with a school. That is why I would recommend you go to a community college near your current home for your first year. That way you can get used to college life - expense and workload while still being in familiar surroundings. My first year was awful because I moved far away from home and I had no one to help me learn how to handle college life. My first school was way too big and I just couldn't access someone who could really help me. I would say that a smaller school might be a good way to start.

There is no reason that you have to start and end your diploma at a single school. Just remember that there may be additional expense if you move. If you can, I would change schools within the same state since most of the schools in a state has mostly the same basic courses required for a specific major. (I went to college in three states, so that was very expensive to lose all those credits.)

Gloria
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Charul’s Answer

We all have gone through this stage where you are right now.You will realized later that how Important is this decision for you. According to me,you should take your time either it's a week or a month , but don't take any decision in hurry.There are so many situations where we take decisions in hurry but you should take your time it is about your career , your whole upcoming life and that is totally up to u.
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Bhavna’s Answer

It is normal to feel uncertain about your college decision, even if you have a gut feeling about one particular school. There is no way to guarantee that you will make the right decision, but researching the school's programs, campus community, and extracurricular activities can help give you more clarity. Additionally, speaking to current students and alumni can help provide you with insights that can help you feel more confident in your decision. Above all else, remember that it is okay to change schools if you find that it isn’t the right fit. You can make the change at any point in your college journey, decide to transfer somewhere else, or pursue other options that fit your interests and goals.
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Wilson’s Answer

I had that issue too before I started University.

What I did is: I visited the universities I got accepted to get an idea of what the atmosphere is like, where I most likely be (Engineering or Business building, etc.), and the people I interact with at my own time. If there are any faculty members or students of the same major that you find, ask them about their experience.

If your university has a preview or visiting day, you should go for it as there will be opportunity to see what student organizations and your major departments are like. There will be faculty and students you'll be able to interact with too.

If you feel that they are welcoming and liked on what you experience/hear during your visit(s), that can be the university you can consider.
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Julie’s Answer

One of the most important items is the school's reputation in your field. Are you looking to be a commuter student or live on your own? Are you looking for a vibrant campus experience or will you be working full time. Don't rule out accredited online Universities with a strong reputation!

Another factor to consider is cost. You don' want to be saddled with paying loans for 20 years. Take a realistic look at costs vs expected salary in your field.
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Erica’s Answer

It's important that you not only go to a school that feels right but is aligned to your aspirations. There are schools that are really good at specific majors or topics so I would start with looking at schools that are highly rated in your preferred area of study while keeping in mind your interest can change. Maybe you are looking at the best schools for engineering but a year or two in you decide you want to be a psychologist - it's important you find somewhere that is well rounded and comfortable where you feel you will have room to grow and change.
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James’s Answer

You have to think about culture. Lots of people get caught up in whether the school has a good program for their intended major, or if the academics in general are good. Think about the community. The type of student the university attracts. You will be a part of this community not just for four years, but for your whole life.

Another thing to consider is the city. Do you feel like you could grow as a person there? Are there opportunities there? These are the factors I considered when I decided a gap year was best for me. I didn't feel ready to commit to all those factors.
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Leslie’s Answer

Hi Mia! My daughter experienced the some of the same apprehension that you have back in 2020 when she graduated from high school. I recommend first being sure about your major and what the schools can offer to get you the best training in the field you want to be in. My daughter knew what she wanted to do and she started doing research on the schools beginning in her freshman year. She attended college tours her Junior and Senior year which gave her an opportunity to witness the programs, college life, dorm life, and meet college students first hand. She got a feel for different environments and made her decision based on which school could give her the best training to reach her full potential in the field that she wants to go in. You may not always find a good connection with people or roommates, that takes time. You can work at it. Give it a try and if you don't like it, try another environment. One good suggestion is to make sure your credits can transfer to other school. Good luck!
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Paul’s Answer

I always encourage students to go with something that is familiar.

Normally, this is a college or a university that is close to home, and has friends and associates from your regional community
In otherwards, a college that is close to your support network.

If it is a college that is further away or out of state, a lot will depend on how easily and comfortably the staff makes your transition, both in living accomodations and in your academics. I think many people leave colleges, that are further away from home, because they are having problems adjusting to the college community, and do not have a familiar support network to assist them with any adversity they encounter.
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