The college application process is a rite of passage for any high school senior seeking higher education. One of the best things you can do is make a comprehensive list, slideshow or document that maps out your application plans. Still trying to figure out where to start? Below you’ll find everything you need to consider before making your final selection.
Identify What You Are Looking For
Since you will be the one who attends this college, your top priority should be what you want. If you can’t wait to attend huge football games and have endless options of clubs, look at schools with a larger student population. If a close-knit community with small class sizes is more appealing, look at schools with smaller student populations. There are plenty of colleges in larger cities with numerous job and internship opportunities, but also plenty in “college towns” with great school pride. Determine what you want to get involved in, whether Greek life, sports, fine arts, etc. The last thing to remember is what level of schools you want to apply to. A good mix includes safety, target and reach schools.
Research Actual Programs/Majors
Once you know what you want in a school, look for colleges with programs tailored to your future career. If you want to work on Wall Street, look for strong finance and business programs. If you see yourself caring for patients as a doctor, look for solid undergraduate programs to help you get into medical school. Universities are often divided into smaller colleges specializing in certain careers, such as business, fine arts, or education. Make sure that the university you are looking at has undergraduate programs in these colleges since that is where you apply right out of high school. Finally, check out how strong your intended major is at each school. You can see the variety of courses each major offers and what organizations correspond with it. Often, the more developed a certain program is, the more reputable it is.
Consider Financial Options
Higher education is an investment, so selecting the right college is important. For most public universities, in-state tuition will be lower than out-of-state tuition. However, many colleges offer scholarship opportunities or similar programs. Check out what kind of education benefits your state offers because some will reimburse tuition if you meet academic requirements and attend a university within your state. Also, consider the kind of people you will be around. If you stay in-state, you may see some of your friends from high school. If you decide to go out of state, you will be around a whole new set of fresh faces.
The best way to determine if a college is the right fit for you is to go and check it out! This way, you can get a true feel of the campus. Take note of the culture; does everyone seem to know each other? Are people busy doing their own thing? Notice the weather, which depends heavily on when you decide to tour. Check out some of the academic buildings and the physical size of the campus. Don’t forget to look at the surrounding area and what there is to do in the town around the school. Remember, wherever you end up is where you will live for the next four years. Make sure it is somewhere that feels like home!
While determining the best-fit college to apply to is important, it is also okay to not know what you want. That is the beauty of the application process; you get to decide which school you want to commit to. It is smart to apply to schools you know you will love. However, there is nothing wrong with throwing in a couple of colleges that you have a positive feeling about. The best tip in this process? Don’t stress - everything is going to work out!