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How do you find a college that is best fit for you?

I am going into my senior year of high school and need to start preparing for college applications. There are several universities that I have been drawn to, but after doing a ton of research, I could not seem to find a university that offers the whole package. I plan to go into the field of occupational therapy in the future, so when I discovered the 5-year BS/MS OT program, I set my mind on getting into one. Throughout high school, I also focused on maintaining a pretty high GPA to increase my chances in getting accepted into one of the top 30 universities in the United States. Additionally, I am looking into colleges on the East coast so I won't be too far from my family. Of course, recreational facilities, hands-on opportunities, and tuition cost are other big things I look for in a college. To my disclosure, there aren't many options that carry the whole load. When choosing one university, I would have to toss out some of the perks I wanted. How can I find a college that is right for me?
#college #university #east-coast #occupational-therapy #gpa #college-selection #college-prep

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Souxsie’s Answer

Hi Karen,

What an interesting profession to pursue! You seem to have done your research on the kind of college experience you'd like to have. Have you considered applying to Northeastern University? They offer co-ops for experiential learning as well as classroom study. Their Co-op programs would give you hands on experience and real-world opportunities and responsibilities to prepare you for the workforce. The MGH Institute of Health Professions is also a great option, but unlike Northeastern, would not offer a traditional campus experience. My advice would be to visit different schools in person to get a sense of what type of environment you feel most comfortable in. Best of luck
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Ashley’s Answer

Hi there, Karen! First I want to say great work. You've done a lot of research and ground work to set yourself up for success as you begin to consider colleges.

You mention the following criteria:
1) Strong OT program
2) Top 30 ranking
3) East Coast
4) Recreation
5) Opportunities
6) Tuition cost

Did you know that up to 80% of college students change their major at least once? Many times, students feel clear on what they want to do for a career until they begin to learn about other opportunities when they begin their college coursework. That's why I highly recommend looking at college's academic offerings holistically; consider the possibility that you may change your mind later on, and that's ok!

Only you and your family can decide what your priorities will be, but based on my work in higher education and my life experience as a young professional I would recommend prioritizing reputation and ranking, tuition cost, hands on opportunities, recreation, and then location.

A degree from a well-known college or university will help you find a job after you graduate, and your school will likely offer career and internship guidance. Regardless of the job you have when you graduate, student loans will have an impact on your quality of life; I recommend that you consider public universities in your state, which will offer you the most affordable tuition.

Hands on opportunities, such as internships, and recreation, such as extracurricular activities, such as university clubs, will offer you the chance to gain some real world experience, build skills, and demonstrate leadership. All of those attributes are of interest to potential employers, especially when you're applying for your first 'post college' job.

And, while location is important, I always recommend that students make that their lowest criteria when searching for a college. When in college it's important to build your network with your peers and professors and to be involved on campus; that can be difficult to do if you're visiting family and friends from home every weekend.

Let me know if you have any follow-up questions, and good luck!

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