Choosing the right college is indeed a significant step. In my opinion, it's best to start out with thinking about what you want from your college experience. Here are some thought-provoking questions that could guide you in initiating your college exploration:
- Have you decided on a major yet?
- Are you considering living on campus or commuting?
- Are you open to studying at a college located far from home?
- What is your budget for tuition and other fees?
- How much financial aid do you anticipate receiving?
- Do you prefer smaller or larger class sizes?
- What kind of campus environment do you envision?
By addressing these questions, you'll start to identify colleges that align with your desires, making it easier to narrow down your choices. Remember, this is an exciting journey, and you're on the path to a great future!
A huge consideration is going to be tuition and scholarship/loans. You don't want to come out of school with a ton of debt. (And please let your parents save for their retirement, not pay for school!) In-state schools are likely to be less expensive, but if any school gives you a full ride, that's the one I'd pick! Room and board add to the cost of school, so if you can commute, that would save money as well.
In the end, visit the campus and get a feel for the school. Can you see yourself there? What about the weather? Do they have resources to help you get internships or job placement after graduation? Can you do a semester abroad?
For what it's worth, I did a round of interviews last year and while I glanced at their schooling, it didn't matter the name of the school. As you get further away from your graduation date, the emphasis rests on your work experience rather than the school you went to.
There are a lot of questions but the basic ones are:
1. Do you want a big campus or small campus?
2. How far are you willing to be away from your home? My son has decided he wants to stay within a reasonable distance from home, so a 2-3 hour drive max.
3. Do you know which area of study you are interested in? Not all areas of study are offered at all schools.
Once you have narrowed down your list, research your top 5 choices and go for campus visits. I would recommend at least 2 visits ideally while school is in- Spring and Winter. Ask to meet with the head of department for your major and find out about internship options and job placement percentages after graduating.
I do agree that unless you go to an Ivy League school, the name of the university/college that you attend is not as important. Go to the school that fits you best and have fun!
1. I would seriously consider going to a community college. Not only does this save you money but gives you more time to think about where you want to end up. Also, basics are basics and it does not make sense to pay for those type of classes at a university. My first year and a half I took basics at a community college and lived at home to save up money. I was also able to work a part time job and this gave me time to discover that I love business (specially operations) If I had not been given that time to think/keep looking I think I may have gone down the wrong career path.
2. Don't trust those "best university" publications. These magazines do not tell the whole story and could be biased toward certain universities. My suggestion is to visit some universities on their campus days to get a feel. Also, I would take this time to meet with current students to ask what their experience has been like. In my opinion, this is the best way to really find out what university you should attend. I visited universities that I thought would be my top two and ended up hating them by the time I left (one told our group ghost stories on the tour) One of the universities in my bottom three ended up where I attended and I absolutely loved it there! The difference happened during campus days and talking to current students.
3. Picking the right university to attend is important but knowing your career path is much more vital to your long term success. I am not saying all universities are alike but obtaining your degree in a field that interest you is much more vital to your work happiness. I have friends who work in fields completely different than their degree because they ended up hating what they spent 4-8 years learning. I implore you not to make this mistake. Really think about what you want to spend your work life doing and then once you decide go after it! Spend your time thinking about your future career and try to not get hung up on the best/right university
I hope this helps and good luck on the journey!