Many of us have sat down with a stack of college mail, a dozen web browser tabs, and a mental checklist of what makes a perfect school:
Dad wants me to choose a local college, so I can come home on weekends. Mom thinks I should look for cultural diversity because there’s no better time to learn about the world than in college. My advisor picked out the most academically rigorous schools in the state, so I can make my high school proud. My best friend told me to avoid his rival school because he doesn’t want to be my enemy by Christmas.
If you’re familiar with this situation—or one like it—you know how bewildering it is to find a college that suits everyone’s criteria. And when you think you’ve found a perfect place that accommodates everyone’s demands, Grandma calls to say she hopes your school has a nice art program.
You’ll have a lot of conflicting expectations.
The initial college search can be full of conflicting expectations from people who aren’t you, the person who will actually have to live with the final decision. The good news? You don’t have to balance everyone else’s desires. Your first priority is to consider what you want in a college.
College is so much more than you think it is.
Of course, the college experience is multifaceted—academics, athletics, arts, student life, and career preparation are just a few of the factors that people will suggest you consider in your college search. These factors play into the strengths and weaknesses of each school, giving you as many hours of information and cross-comparisons to comb through as you’ll spend studying for the SAT. Just hope that your swim coach doesn’t call with a list of the best college pools—you hadn’t even thought of that!
While your extended family tosses around suggestions about their alma maters and the latest online program they saw on TV, step aside and consider your own desires for a moment. If that perfect school doesn’t have an intramural Ultimate Frisbee league, the one thing you really wanted in a school, then you won’t be totally satisfied.
Think about what you want.
Take time to evaluate your priorities. Instead of searching far and wide for a school that suits everyone’s hopes and dreams for your college career, list out what elements you most value in your future college.
Your college selection is a long-term investment. Amid the flurry of unsolicited advice, remember to put your personal checklist of must-haves at the forefront of your decision-making process. Make what you want your top priority.
Not sure what should be your top consideration? Take this quiz to find out!
And of course, with College Raptor’s match tool, you can find colleges that meet a number of your requirements or preferences–you might find some schools you never even considered before!