Looking for the right college for you can be as confusing as it is exciting. The college you choose will have a major impact on your long term career goals. As exciting as that thought is, it is also overwhelming. If you’re searching for college tips and tricks to help guide you towards making the right choices, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got some solid advice for you so don’t have to spend any more time searching for college tips.
Start Your Search Early
We can’t emphasize this enough – start your college search early. It takes time to explore different colleges and determine what they offer in terms of academics and extracurricular activities. You also want to know more about their location, their tuition fees, their dorms, and facilities. Finding that one school that’s the right fit for you in every way can take a considerable amount of time. Seriously, start early so you don’t make the wrong choice simply because you were pressed for time. The earlier you start, the better your chances of zeroing in on that perfect school for you.
Make a List of What You’re Looking For In a College
Every student has their own unique list of what they are looking for in a college. One student may prefer a large campus in a competitive setting. Another may prefer a smaller campus that is less competitive. Some students choose urban campuses for more internship opportunities and the ability to expand their network. Others choose rural campuses for the opportunity to spend time outdoors.
Think about what YOU want. Make a list of things you are looking for in a college. Start with your intended major. You want to attend a school that offers the academic program you are interested in. Other things to think about are campus size, class size, extracurricular facilities, location, distance from home, and dorms. Keep this list handy so you can refer to it when narrowing down your college shortlist.
Browse College Websites
Browsing a college’s website will give you a good idea of the academic programs and extracurricular activities they offer. It will also give you an idea of what student life is like on their campus. Take some time and explore the websites of colleges you are interested in. Make notes of the features you like or dislike in each school. Creating a spreadsheet will make it easier for you to compare different schools later on.
Don’t forget to also make notes of specific information you’re looking for but cannot find on the college website. You can contact the college admissions office and get whatever answers you are looking for.
Discuss Your Plans with Your Family
After you’ve done your initial research, it’s time to open up a discussion with your family. Talk to your parents about your academic interests and career goals. Tell them about the schools you’re considering applying to. Most importantly, talk about the cost of attending college. Now is the time to have that critical money talk. Don’t presume anything. You have to ask your parents what kind of support they can give you. That will help you narrow your choices based on the tuition fees.
Attend College Fairs
Attending college fairs is an efficient way to get information about different colleges in one place. At college fairs, you’ll meet college representatives who will go out of their way to answer all your questions. You’ll find several college fairs being held at various venues at the end of the academic year. Make time to attend at least a few that are convenient for you. It’ll give you a fairly good idea of what’s out there.
Speak to Your Career Counselor
Career counselors can give you information that you won’t find anywhere else. They help high school students every year with their college search and use the feedback they get to help other students. Career counselors may give you information on little-known colleges that could be a great fit for you. They may also suggest more affordable options for you so you can graduate with less debt. Whatever obstacle you come up against, your career counselor will help you find a viable solution. Think of your career counselor as your one-stop source when you are searching for college tips.
Schedule One or More Campus Tours
Nothing beats actually visiting a college to get a real feel of the campus vibe. You can’t read about it. Nobody can really explain it to you. You’ve got to be there physically to feel know whether the environment feels right to you. It also allows you to talk to students, sit in on a class in session, and eat in the dining hall. Think of it as a preview of what life will be like on that campus for the next four years. Does it excite you or fill you with dread? Campus visits will help you make a more informed decision about whether or not that college is right for you.
Along with all the things you must do, there are two don’ts that we have to mention.
Don’t Choose a College Based On Where Your Friends are Going
It’s surprising how many students actually do this. They choose a college simply because that’s where their friend is headed, regardless of whether or not it is right for them. Choosing a college is a major decision – one that will have a bearing on your whole future. You need to put some more thought into this decision rather than just following your best friend. Besides, the most exciting part of college life is meeting and making new friends. It’s a great way to expand your circle of friends and grow as a person.
Don’t Choose a College Just Because It’s Your Parent’s Alma Mater
Sure, your parents are nostalgic about their alma mater. It was the best time of their life and they wish you’d choose the same college they went to. Just because a school was right for your parents, doesn’t mean it’ll be right for you. You have your own unique personality, study style, dreams, and goals, which may be completely different from that of your parents. Nostalgia and emotions are not factors that go into choosing a college. Be objective and refer to your list when narrowing down your choice of colleges.