Unfortunately, there is no crisp, perfect answer. Colleges are rated by many things, but none of the ratings can ever be specific to your needs. At minimum, you want to know that the college offers degrees in areas of interest to you and is environmentally appealing. Do read Vanshee's advice, as he did a superb job of collecting the information to aid you in reviewing standings of colleges. My advice is that you also need to factor in how you relate to the school. Definitely visit it before making a decision. Talk to some students, and see if you can arrange time to speak with a professor in an area of interest. Also share your thought with your HS guidance counselor, as that person will have a lot of useful insight. You will be there several years, so be sure to consider that. When I was a student, I preferred a college with a large, green campus with all buildings within walking distance. Some enjoy a campus in a big city. Also, in case you might change majors while there, bigger schools have more options. I also advise that cost is not a measure of quality. Remember, the biggest factor in your success is you, how hard you study and how much you interact with college professors and other instructors, as well as other students. All the best to you in your pursuits.
Find the college's credentials and compare them with others.
Visit the college and connect with students.
Talk to your school counselor for their input.
Research about the college online
See if you can contact any Alumni from the college in LinkedIn or online for their feedback.
You can find the college rankings/college scorecard at the below links
Hope this helps!! Good luck
You can only learn so much about a future experience until you have it. When you enlist other people's opinions (and I hope you do and do a lot of them) it will still only be a compilation of different experiences.
Yes, do your homework. Research. Compare and Contrast. Interview alums, specifically in your field, major, coursework, and professors.
Also, consider what type of experience YOU want to get from college. College is a combination of experiences beyond education. Consider location because you will be a resident of that city and have the opportunity to explore it and interact with your neighbors. On-campus life vs. off-campus. life. You will be getting a direct education from your professors but an indirect education from your peers and environment, so consider this carefully.
The other and most notable aspect is what you want to do with your education. There's a reason why Ivy league schools exist, beyond the stellar education and the network you opt into when you graduate. Opportunities for the alumni are how your education will reward you for the rest of your life.
But here are some basics:
1. Accreditation: Check if the college is accredited by a recognized accreditation body. Accreditation ensures that the college meets certain quality standards in terms of academics, facilities, and resources.
2. Faculty qualifications and reputation: Look into the qualifications and reputation of the faculty. Check if they have advanced degrees in their field and if they are active in research or other professional activities.
3. Graduation and retention rates: Look at the college's graduation and retention rates. A high graduation rate and a low dropout rate are indicators that the college is providing a quality education and supporting its students.
4. Reputation: Consider the college's reputation. Look at rankings from respected publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, and ask for recommendations from people you trust.
5. Resources and facilities: Consider the resources and facilities available at the college. This includes libraries, labs, technology, and extracurricular activities.
6. Student support services: Look at the support services available to students, such as tutoring, counseling, and career services. These services can be critical to your success in college.
7. Cost and financial aid: Consider the cost of attendance and the availability of financial aid. Look for colleges that offer scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial assistance.
Ryan recommends the following next steps:
Great question! I'd like to say that I love Vamshee's and David's answers. I agree wholeheartedly with their suggestions. One thing that I also want you to keep in mind is finding a place that you can afford. Please try not to take out a ton of student loans if you can help it. I'm still struggling to pay back student loans years after I graduated, and my quality of life has suffered for it. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to pay down the principal because the interest keeps accumulating, even after consolidating my loans. Anyway, try to find a college that you love, fits your needs, but also is reasonably priced. Yes, you'll probably need to take out some student loans. However, if you need to take out more than $50,000 in loans, you will most likely struggle to pay down debt unless you are guaranteed a great-paying job after graduation.
Good luck with everything!
This means that you have some flexibility in where you go to college (unless you have specific ambitions where the college you came from plays a role in where you go next. You are very unlikely to get into medical school by attending a community college).
Definitely research the culture of the schools you are interested in. Find one that fits your style. But ultimately, it is what you do there that matters. Keep your eye out for the next thing.
That's a great question. You definitely wanna ensure the college your going to go to, provides quality education and gives a good return on your investment.
Few things to gauge if the college and department is good,
1. Looking into the faculty that teaches your major
2. Looking into the quality of the overall department your planning to join
3. Alumni network
4. Research being done by the college
5. Facilities available
6. Rankings of the college
7. Location of the college
8. Accreditations and graduation rates
9. Student support services
These are few of the things to look out for while choosing a good college. You should also keep an open mind to consider a college that would be a right fit for you too in terms of academics and extracurricular activities.
All the best in choosing a good college.
It's also a good idea to seek guidance from your high school guidance counselor or academic advisor. They can provide valuable insights and resources to help you make an informed decision. Moreover, you can visit your local department of labor to learn about employment trends in various fields and find out which colleges are recommended for your chosen career path. Seeking assistance from these resources can help you make an informed decision about which college to attend.
I completely agree that you need to look at what you are looking for in a college/university. I need to apologize to your folks, up front, if what I tell you now goes against what they suggest. I hope that you have a good relationship/support system in place. My heart is in the right place…
Your question was about a good education. Part of that depends on what your end-goal is. (And this is why I don’t want your fam to hate me.) Your desired major may lead you in one direction. Many schools are known for being very good at specific programs…and looking up the scorecards is a great suggestion. There is no guarantee that you’ll get your undergrad degree in four years – majoring in a certain field – and that will define who you will be in the future. I come from a long-line of English-majors who never worked in an adjacent field. (I’m the black sheep…MBA in accounting.)
My colleagues gave you brilliant advice…I just want to chime in with something else. I left college after three semesters because “I didn’t know what I wanted to do” as far as a job/career went. It wasn’t until months after I stopped attending that I was told by the counselor, “you don’t go to college to learn a specific skill, unless it’s a trade school or something medical/technical. You go to college to learn how to learn.” I got a job in retail and worked for years…getting promoted, getting raises...but when the market tanked…I was left without a job and nothing that mattered to the professional world.
I just want you to know…your major does not have to be your end-goal. I hope dearly that you have a good family relationship and can have open, honest discussions. Just please promise to not make the same mistake I did. I took a “semester off” that lasted for years. Biggest regret of my life. If you start, please don’t stop. Switching majors, etc. will delay your time to graduation – but if you aren’t interested in a specific field…it may not mean as much at the end of the day. I’m sure you’re ready to be done with school…but if you get through the hurdle of college…your life will be exponentially better.
As to Miss Tara’s concerns about financial aid…the same message kind of applies. Don’t start something you can’t finish. My sister went to a private university and paid out-of-state tuition for a semester based on what she thought she “wanted to do”. After a semester, she switched to an English major and could have saved tons by just going to the state school here. As to David’s point about what type of college you want to attend…my sister went on a campus visit and immediately dismissed two schools because she did not “like the architecture”.
I end this by telling you what I say to all the kids. “YOU GOT THIS!!!”. I know it’s a tough time in life…(not that I have a daughter I’m already worrying about). I went to college the first time pretty much pre-mass-internet…but you have already done something that I was too naïve to do…you asked for advice/help/whatever you want to call it. So I know you’ve got this!
Hopefully your family isn’t mad at anything I said. Make sure you fill out the FAFSA! I didn’t see that you specified a grade…but if you aren’t a senior, go to https://studentaid.gov/aid-estimator/ and do a “simulation” of what types of aid you might receive from fed and state governments. And make sure colleges you apply to know grades, test scores, etc.
I repeat…you got this….