You’ve browsed too many college websites to count. You’ve visited multiple colleges. You may have even applied and been accepted at several schools.
Whether you are just starting your college search process or maybe it’s time to narrow your choice to the one school that fits you best, here are nine tips to finding the best college for you.
Put it in writing. Take the Best college for me quiz
What is your ideal college location?
Do you plan on staying close to home, moving across the country or meeting in the middle? It is important to think about the weather, city life and even access to grocery stores or hospitals.
How big do you want your class sizes to be?
Class styles and sizes vary between institutions, which is why it is important to know what you want. Some schools have classes as small as 15 students and faculty members know their students on a first-name basis. In other colleges, teaching assistants teach entry-level classes in lecture halls holding more than 300 students. Sit in on a couple college classes if you’re not sure what type of style/size is right for you.
Where do you stand financially?
Most colleges encourage you to file the FASFA (even if you don’t think it’s necessary). You also should make sure to think about other types of aid you will need to attend college. It is important to assess how much you are willing – and able – to spend on your college education. Consider the amount of loans and scholarships you are eligible to receive and move forward from there.
Do you know what you want to study, or are you torn between majors?
If you already know what you want to study, make sure that the colleges you are looking into have stellar programs in that field. Maybe you plan on going to graduate school in the future, is so, find an institution that is known for your area of study.
It’s not unusual to be torn between majors. If this is you, find an institution that has options. Many college students change their major at least once. Choose a college that has multiple areas of study that interest you so that, if necessary, you will have options.
What kind of housing do you want to live in?
Where you live is a huge part of your college experience and something to consider early on in your search. Some colleges allow you to live off campus, others require you to live on campus, and some offer Greek life opportunities. Contemplate what you think will fit your needs best and how important housing options are to you.
What type of atmosphere are you looking for?
When you went on your campus visits, which college were you able to picture yourself at most? Are you looking for a school with an energizing busyness to it? Or are you looking for a slower-paced atmosphere where people stop and say “hi” as you pass them on the sidewalk? Think about which professors, coaches and students you connected with most – those who really seem to care about your future and want to help you succeed. Choose the campus that feels “right” to you!
Finding a school that aligns with your values and beliefs is key in making sure that you feel comfortable at your new “home away from home.”
How important are athletics to you?
Whether you plan on playing an intercollegiate, club or intramural sports or simply cheering the teams, this is an item to consider. If you are looking to play on an intercollegiate level, consider NCAA (DI, DII or DIII) or NAIA. There are different expectations and scholarship restrictions for the various levels.
If you are wanting the team atmosphere with practice and competition, but with less commitment, look to see what club or intramural sport opportunities are available.
How involved in campus life do you want to be?
Colleges have a plethora of student organizations you can be involved in. Do you want to continue singing in the choir, theatre, serving others, writing for the school newspaper or whatever other extracurricular activity you enjoyed in high school? Is that an option at the college you are considering?
What do you want to get out of your school experience?
Finally, look at what you hope to get out of your college experience. Do you want research opportunities? Internship and co-op opportunities? Leadership opportunities? The ability to learn a little bit about everything? Or, are you simply focused on obtaining your degree and finding a job right out of college?
Put it in writing!
Sometimes it helps to write things down to get your thoughts together. Use this 10 question quiz to determine the best college for you.
Now it’s time to deposit!
Once you decide on the best college fit for you, it is time to deposit! There is usually a financial deposit required from an institution to “hold your spot.” Be in contact with the admissions counselors from your future school to learn how.
Written by Bluffton University senior Beth Weigandt.