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You just graduated high school and are ready to start your next adventure. College is an exciting time to explore your career path and make new friends. Yet, with so many options, it may feel a little overwhelming. You may be wondering, what college should I go to? Here are some steps for picking your dream school.
1. Develop a List of Schools
One of the first steps is to come up with a shortlist of your top choices. You may already have a few in mind or have received recommendations from your family. Do some research and learn about schools that pique your interest. Take a look at their websites and see what courses they offer.
To help narrow down your search, consider the following factors:
- Enrollment size
- Extracurricular activities
2. Consider Your Top Priorities
You will want to rank your wants and needs. Determine what you want to get out of your experience. Suppose you want to continue playing soccer in college. You will want to find a university that offers a competitive sports program. Once you have determined your wants, you can use the list to compare your chosen schools.
3. Visit the Campus
Checking out the campus is a crucial step when deciding what college should I go to? Visiting the institution will provide a better feel for the environment. It’s also a great way to get your questions answered.
Here are some questions you should ask during the tour:
- What is the average class size?
- How many classes do students take a semester?
- How easy is it to switch majors?
- What tutoring services are available?
- What percentage of students receive financial aid?
Make sure to visit the campus when school is in session. During that time, meet with admissions and take down notes. Remember, you can explore the campus even after you send your application. If travel costs are too expensive, consider taking a virtual tour.
4. Think Long-Term
Think about your future. Where do you see yourself in five years? Consider your financial and employment goals. With this in mind, determine which college can help get you there. If you’re hoping to graduate with no student debt, look for tuition costs within your budget. Public schools tend to have a lower price than private schools. The average public tuition is $10,560 for in-state students.
5. Explore the Different Majors
Check out your major’s academic departments. Find a specific school that is known for your major. Also, research the professors and see if they have any experience within the field. Check out college websites and reach out to faculty.
During your campus visits, ask to see department buildings related to your major. Some colleges might even let you sit in on a class. Be sure to look into departments for all the majors you’re considering. When choosing a major, think about your interests and career goals.
6. Research Job Connections
One of the main reasons for going to college is to enter into a career. So looking into this is essential when asking where do I want to go to college? The school must provide employment resources, such as job fairs and on-campus interviews.
Many campuses offer career centers to help students find internships. Take time to research these services and ask about them on your tour. You might also want to learn the counselor-to-student ratio. Plus, also look into where most graduate students land after leaving college. For example, what percentage end up with a career in their field?
7. Compare Financial Aid Packages
Paying for college can be a challenge for many students. Universities often offer some form of financial aid. In 2018-2019, 86% of students were awarded aid. The Pell Grant is one of the most common ones provided for undergraduate students.
Before deciding on an institution, compare each package carefully. Consider other fees besides the tuition, like housing. Also, understand the difference between each award, such as scholarships and loans. Unlike most scholarships, you will need to repay the loans.
8. Learn More About Campus Life
When you’re not in class, you want to have a social life. Exploring the campus environment is a crucial step for determining what college should want I go to? Think about the activities that interest you. Do you want to be part of Greek life? Are you a big sports fan? Also, consider if you want to join any clubs. Check out the list of student organizations before selecting a college.
9. Look Into Supportive Resources
You must take care of yourself physically and mentally as well as academically. If you’re religious, look for schools that support your belief system. In addition, if you have learning requirements, ensure the school can provide these.
Make sure you can adequately care for your mental well-being as well. Many first-year students may take time to adjust to a new environment. So, check that counseling services are available.
10. Determine Academic Prestige
For some people getting into a well-accredited school is at the top of their list. It can help you to stand out among employers or when applying to graduate school. To check your college’s status, look into its reputation and alumni network. Also, consider their ranking in areas like sports and academics.
What College Should I Go to?
You may feel pressure from your family to start figuring out your next steps. With many educational opportunities, you’re probably wondering where I should go to college? Follow this guide to help you make the best decision.