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How to Pick a College Part 1

· College,students,Education

So here you are! You are in the last stages of high school or a recent graduate, and you have likely been thinking about college for months or even years. But now it's time to start choosing where you will apply and, ultimately, where you will attend. Yikes; they all look similar, don't they? Fancy brochures with pictures of smiling students. Gorgeous, green campuses with rolling hills and stern-looking buildings. Academic accolades and awards galore. In fact, there are nearly 4500 of them according to the latest statistics from the Department of Education!

 

So how do you choose the right college? What is the most important factor? This guide will get you on the path to choosing the best school for you.


1. Who Are You, and Why Are You Going to College?

 

All colleges are not right for all people. Before you even get to which one is right for YOU, you need to ask yourself who you are. I see so many students who pick a college based on rankings, statistics, and awards. While these factors are important, they should not be the sole basis or even the starting point for your college decision.

 

Instead, think about who you are and why you want to go to college. Are you the kind of person who thrives in a small, concentrated environment with only a few other students and less conventional teaching methods? Are you more comfortable in large classes with more standardized tests? Do you want to eventually have a career rising through the ranks of a large company or are you hoping to start your own business someday? Or are you looking to further your education in the arts or academia? And similar questions.

 

Start by writing down the answers to 5 Questions to Start With before moving further in your decision making process. By the end of it, you will have a much better sense of direction in your upcoming college journey!


2. What Major Will You Pick?

 

So you know what you want out of your college experience in general and, similarly, you know where you want to be. Now it's time to get into the nitty gritty: majors, programs, and specializations.


From my experience as a guidance and a career counselor, this can be the most difficult part of picking a college for many high school students.  

 

Sure, for some people, their chosen major and then their chosen career path are a given. But maybe you aren't sure yet. How are you supposed to know now, from the limited classes you have taken in high school, what you will eventually want to do for the rest of your life? Especially when picking from so many programs and majors that look so similar?

 

Interestingly, this is the part of picking a university or college that causes students the most stress, but is often the easiest part of the decision. Don’t worry! You have done all the hard work already in figuring out who you are (i.e., what kind of college or university you would be most comfortable at), why you want to go to college, and where you want to go. If you already know what major or course of study you are interested in, great!

 

But many, many students choose their majors after a semester or two, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing exactly what you want to study until you've had a chance to sample. If this is the case for you, however, you are probably better off picking a university with numerous quality academic programs rather than a specialist school such as a technology or agricultural/mechanical university or institute.

So here you are! You are in the last stages of high school or a recent graduate, and you have likely been thinking about college for months or even years. But now it's time to start choosing where you will apply and, ultimately, where you will attend. Yikes; they all look similar, don't they? Fancy brochures with pictures of smiling students. Gorgeous, green campuses with rolling hills and stern-looking buildings. Academic accolades and awards galore. In fact, there are nearly 4500 of them according to the latest statistics from the Department of Education!

So how do you choose the right college? What is the most important factor? This guide will get you on the path to choosing the best school for you.


1. Who Are You, and Why Are You Going to College?

All colleges are not right for all people. Before you even get to which one is right for YOU, you need to ask yourself who you are. I see so many students who pick a college based on rankings, statistics, and awards. While these factors are important, they should not be the sole basis or even the starting point for your college decision.

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