So May 1 is fast approaching and you can’t decide which college to attend. For some, it’s easy but for others it can take over your life and cause a ton of stress. Here are some tricks to help you make that big decision.
- Attend a Spring Open House. Spend the night in a residence hall, attend classes and talk to professors. Was one student body friendlier or was the staff at one school more helpful than the other?
- Look at the Surroundings. Take a look at the area around the college and think about what you would do there on weekends or in your spare time. Do you want a big city with lots of action or do you prefer a quiet, more rural area?
- Double Check the Size. A larger college may have more social and academic choices, but the campus may be so big that you’re lost in the crowd. You need to decide whether you want to blend into a campus or be in an environment where you make friends easily and professors know your name.
- Review your Notes. Go back to your files and re-read everything you collected on these schools. Recall what was most important in choosing the type of school to attend and review the benefits of each: smaller class sizes, study abroad programs, strong athletics…This will help you remember what you really liked and what concerned you about each one.
- Weigh the Location. Now’s the time to be sure about how far away from home you want to be. Think about how often you'll want to come home and whether you can afford to do so. The farther away you go, the fewer students from your high school class will be going, so think about whether you want the comfort of knowing other students right away or prefer to start fresh in a new environment.
- Research your Major. It’s not too early to be thinking about life after college and one of the most important things a good college will do is help launch your career. Talk to professors or the career office and find out what their career placement rate is and what kinds of jobs graduates in your intended field land.
- Discuss Costs. Even if money isn’t an issue for your parents, it’s important to have an honest discussion about the financial differences between the schools. That’s especially important if one choice will be comfortably within your means and the other is slightly beyond your budget.
- Talk to Other Students. Many colleges offer chat rooms for accepted students, which is a great place to get a better feel for your fellow freshmen. You might also want to speak with current students, which can be accomplished by asking your admission counselor to provide you with a couple of e-mail addresses.
- Get Opinions. Ask your counselor, teachers and family members their thoughts between the schools. Most will be honored you’ve asked and may provide a different perspective than you’re getting in other places.
Make a Chart. Okay, now that you’ve gathered all of the information, it’s time to lay it all out on the table. Make a college comparison worksheet listing important qualities that should be a factor in your decision. Include as many qualities as you need and then give each school a plus or minus in each category. Total up the score for each school and tally up the numbers on your college scoreboard. There should be a clear-cut winner and your decision should be made for you. Congratulations!