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Why is looking for colleges so hard?

I know that it has to suit you for many reasons, but why does it always have to be such a long process. I don't know, I just want to know will there ever be an easy process for finding a good college? #college #college-advice

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John’s Answer

Hi Cheyenne,

Like you mentioned, a college has to suit you in a lot of different areas (e.g. academics, size, location, activities). College is a time and place where you grow a lot as an individual and learn a lot of things - both inside and outside the classroom. Since it is a very big decision that impacts you in a lot of ways, I believe that is why it takes so long to find the school that is right for you. Also, each college is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. It takes a lot of time to sort through those strengths and weaknesses of each school and determine which strengths and weaknesses are most important to you.

I believe the only way the process for finding a college would be easier is if there were fewer colleges - so that there would not be as many options to choose from.

Although it may be a long and arduous process, finding the right college for you can be (and should be) a lot of fun! Enjoy it while you can! Many people consider the years spent in college as the most memorable years of their life.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Regards,
John
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Richard’s Answer

You can start with a few simple questions.

1) do they have the major you want?
2) will be happy? Does the social situation fit your personality?
3) Does it fit your financial situation?
4) do they have clubs that fit your interest?
5) Do they have resources to get you summer internships and eventually a job or graduate school
6) look for desirable locations. You may end up living in the city in which you attend college.
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Herman’s Answer

Hi Cheyenne,

As John already mentioned, many people consider the years of their lives in college the best years of their lives. I have to agree, I loved my college years and wish I could go back.

With that said, it is difficult to find the "right"college for you. I guess the best thing is to consider your priorities for selecting a college. e.g., location, size, and major. Once you find out what you want to study, and the locations, you can check online for programs. U.S. News releases annual reviews/rankings of college programs. Also, once you find a program you may be interested in, reach out to some alumni, and maybe even visit the college to see if you like the environment and culture.

Hope this helps!

Best regards,
Herman
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Lynette’s Answer

Finding the right college can be daunting. With so many choices, and so much information out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Where’s that magic “sorting hat”, when we need it?


It might seem hard, but don’t let it discourage you. A little effort now can result in a big payout in terms of your happiness, later. Lucky for you, researching colleges is easier now, than ever before. With an internet connection, the information is right at your fingertips. You’re also lucky to live in a state like PA, where there are hundreds of great colleges and universities to choose from, where you can take advantage of in-state tuition rates. It will be hard to go wrong, whichever you choose, but if you invest a little time thinking, reading, and making educated choices, you can maximize your chances of finding a college you will love.


When a task seems “hard”, it can help to break it down into smaller chunks. Here’s how you might break down the college search:


Step 1: Make a list of the qualities that are most likely to make you happy. If you don’t know, then take a self-assessment test, or ask yourself questions, like: what are your favorite and least favorite things about your high school? What do you like and dislike about your hometown? When you go into a crowded place, do you feel overwhelmed or social? Do you feel more comfortable when you know everyone in the room? Or, would you prefer to be meeting new people? Do you know what college degree or career path do you want to pursue? Here are a few qualities to consider about colleges:

a. Size: large research university, or small liberal arts college?

b. Location: city or rural?

c. Programs: What degree will you pursue? Is there a specific program you need, to get where you want to go career-wise?

d. Cost: how much is tuition? Room & board?

e. Qualifications for admittance: realistic?

f. Activities: how important are team sports? Outdoor activities? Religion? Art? Will you need a part-time job?

Step 2: Do some online research to identify the top 5-10 schools that match most of your criteria from step 1. Use some of your most important criteria as “keywords” in your search. Example, if religion is important to you, type in “religious colleges in Pennsylvania”. If you want to be an Engineer, or a Marine Biologist, search on “Engineering programs in PA”, or “colleges that offer a Marine biology degree”. Take a look at the colleges' web pages, too. List anything new you discover about each school, both pros and cons.


Step 3: When you get your list narrowed down to your favorite 4-5 schools, join or follow social media pages for students from that school, ask questions and try to learn more about what it is like to be a student, there. Go visit the campus, walk around, talk to professors, visit the dorms, and get a feel for the culture. Find out the application timeline and process for each of your top schools, and get started applying!


Hopefully, by breaking it down into a series of steps, the college search process will seem a little more manageable, maybe even fun. The worst that can happen is that you end up attending a school, and later finding out you don’t like it. That isn’t the end of the world - you can always transfer somewhere else.

And, if all else fails, maybe you can invent a “magic sorting hat” that will help future college kids find their perfect college, all over the world. You’ll make a fortune! Did you know that most of our modern conveniences today were invented because someone, just like you, asked themselves, "why does this have to be so hard? There must be an easier way"… and they went out and invented one.

Lynette recommends the following next steps:

This list divides the schools out by type, so you can easily narrow your search. Plus, each one has a link to more info about that school. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colleges_and_universities_in_Pennsylvania
Another list that pulls together a lot of data points for you: http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/best-colleges-in-pennsylvania/
Check out this article that pulls together a lot of information into 1 list, including national rank, size, tuition, etc. https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/pa
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