Your hard work right through your student years has paid off and you’ve received several acceptance letters. Now it’s time to make that huge decision that will influence your next few years—what is your final college choice?
Receiving multiple acceptances can be exciting. But, if you do not have a clear favorite, making this crucial decision can be daunting. Experts suggest that students take their time and set about the decision making process strategically. Weigh the pros and cons of each institution.
These few tips may be helpful to consider when making your final college choice.
Look Beyond the Statistics
The statistics on colleges are endless. Some statistics focus on graduation rates, others on research opportunities, student satisfaction, job placement, and other criteria. These are statistics that you would have considered when making your initial shortlist of colleges to apply to. Don’t do this all over again. With those acceptance letters in your hand, it’s time now to look beyond the statistics and focus on personal considerations.
Compare The Features And Benefits Of Each College
Making a detailed spreadsheet detailing the features and benefits of each college may be the best way to compare each college against the rest.
You may have to include some specific criteria depending on your unique circumstances. In general, some of the more important criteria to compare colleges should include:
- Academic offerings: In addition to offering the major (or major) of your choice, does the college offer suitable alternatives in case you decide to switch majors midway through the program?
- Extracurricular activities: Does the college offer at least one extracurricular activity that you participate in or maybe an activity that you would like to try? Whether you love spending your free time playing lacrosse or you’d like the opportunity to act in a Shakespearean play, being able to participate in your favorite activity will enrich your college experience and is an important factor to consider.
- Student-faculty ratio: While student-to-faculty ratios should not be used as a deciding factor, it will give you an indication of how easy it will be to get individualized help from professors if and when you need it. A small student-faculty ratio is always better, especially if you need individual attention to excel.
- Experiential learning opportunities: Will the college help you get internships for credits and other extracurricular experience that is relevant to your major?
- Campus life: It’s surprising how every college campus is unique in terms of the general atmosphere. Some are casual and easy-going, others may be more competitive with fewer socialization opportunities. You have to decide what you are looking for and what type of campus atmosphere will help you thrive.
- Location of the college: Are you looking for a college in an urban or remote setting? Do you see yourself as outdoorsy or do you prefer to be close to the indoor entertaining that cities offer? This can make a big difference so consider this carefully.
- Job placement rates: High job placement rates may not guarantee that you will get a job immediately after graduation but it may be best to steer clear of attending a college that has a history of low job placement rates from its graduates.
Compare The Comprehensive Cost And The Financial Aid Packages
In considering the comprehensive cost, you do not want to choose the cheapest option. But, you don’t want to end up with unmanageable debt either. Balancing between features, facilities, benefits, tuition, and the comprehensive cost is crucial. For many students, the total cost of college can make a difference in where they decide to go to college.
In considering the comprehensive college costs, you need to consider the tuition fees, cost of room, board, textbooks and transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Then add up the financial aid packages offered to you and your personal finances and figure out how much student loan you will need to take to attend that particular college.
There is no one right decision when it comes to financial decisions. Some students may decide to go with their second-choice college because it offers a better financial aid package as compared to their first-choice college, while another student may decide differently.
What is important is that you have a clear idea of how much it is going to cost you to attend each school. Weigh your options carefully before making your final decision. It may be worth choosing a more expensive school if their state-of-the-art research facilities justify the higher cost but you may not want to pay those additional fees for more luxurious dorm facilities.
Don’t Base Your Decisions On Somebody Else’s Opinions
Making a major decision such as college selection based on somebody else’s opinion can be a huge mistake. Other students may experience things differently from you. Your best friend may dissuade you from attending a particular college because of the intense competitive spirit on campus left her feeling constantly stressed out. But what if you thrive on competition? Just because it is not right for somebody else, it does not mean it is not right for you. Don’t cross it off your list just yet.
The best way to get a second opinion is to do a final college visit. Several colleges have special college days for accepted students. This is a great time to go and get a closer first-hand look and solidify your choice of college. Pay close attention to how you feel as you walk around the campus. Talk to students and professors. Ask them specific questions and get all of your doubts clarified.
Your College Choice is Yours to Make.
Above all, keep in mind that your college experience will shape your career and the rest of your life. Your final college choice must truly be your decision and nobody else’s. Take advice from family and friends but don’t let anyone talk you into making a decision that is not truly yours.
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