How Do I Choose A College That Is Right For Me ? ¬†
Choosing a college is never an easy decision. Your pocketbook, your future and the quality of your life and education will be affected by this one very important decision. As soon as you make the decision to go to college, try to determine what it is you want and need in a college or university.
These Are Some Of The Areas To Consider When Choosing A College.
Cost of Tuition :
- What is the annual cost of tuition, fees, books, housing and transportation costs?
- Is the school in-state or out-of-state? Keep in mind that in-state tuition is much less expensive than out-of-state tuition.
- What kind of financial aid packages does the school offer to students?
Reputation of School :
- What is the graduation rate for the college or university?
- What is the quality of the program you are studying?
Location of School :
- Do you want to commute to and from school?
- How often do you want to go home to see your family? Weekends, holidays, summer or winter break?
- Do you want to be in a city or more rural area?
- Will the location be a distraction to your studies?
Length of Degree Program :
- How long can you commit to your degree program? Keep in mind that a 4 year degree may end up taking as long as 5 to 6 years.
- Decide whether you want to study full-time or part-time.
- Will you be on a waiting list? How long will you need to take liberal arts classes before you are admitted into the program? Some waiting lists can be up to 2 years!
- Make sure your program meets your educational objectives.
Size of School :
- Size matters! Larger schools tend to have larger class sizes where smaller schools have smaller class sizes. It all depends on your personal preference.
- Small schools are more personable but you may have less options for classes and extracurricular activities.
- Larger schools may offer more extracurricular activities but you won’t get the same individualized attention in the classroom as a smaller school.
- If you like the feeling of anonymity, then a larger school may be more your style. If you prefer an intimate community feeling then a smaller school may be right for you.
Extracurricular Activities :
- What types of extracurricular activities are offered at the college?
- Will you be stimulated enough?
- What are some of the activities in and around the area?
Quality of Athletic Programs :
- What kind of funding does the athletic department have?
- What is the quality of equipment, leadership and reputation?
- What kind of athletic scholarships are available?
- Are there good quality womens’ programs?
Campus Security and Crime Statistics :
- Look at crime statistics at the college and near the college.
- What are the campus safety records?
- Is the campus well-lit?
- How does the university or college handle emergency situations?
- How does the college or university protect its’ students and faculty?
Mental Health Services on Campus:
Mental health is important. Stress, financial pressure, relationship issues and peer pressure in college can all negatively affect your mental health. Many people feel more and more isolated as they are spending more time using technology than spending time with friends and loved ones in real life. According to a recent Collegiate Mental Health Report, anxiety and depression are some of¬†the main reasons students seek mental health services. These are closely followed by relationship issues and stress. It can help to know what kind of mental health support is available.
Find out whether or not your school has mental health services available to students. A phone call to the school or online search of their counselling services can help answer this question.
For those that do not offer services, ask for local providers to whom they can refer to you.
If the school does offer counselling services, it is important to ask the following questions.
- How many individual sessions are available per student and at what cost?
- How long is the typical wait for an individual session?
- Are there emergency or walk-in hours?
- Is there a psychiatrist on campus that students have access to? If not, do they make referrals to psychiatrists in the community?
- Do they offer group therapy on an issue that is relevant to you?
- Do they offer additional services like psychoeducation or stress management events? If so, what topics do they focus on?
Understand Your Options :
Most students don’t realize how many choices there actually are when choosing a college.
Take the time to research schools and programs and see which college or program will be a good fit for you. It is better to do your homework now before investing your valuable time and money in a school you end up not liking.¬† Some of the many options available:
- 4-Year Universities
- 2-Year Colleges or Degree Programs
- Trade or Vocational Schools
- Online Colleges and Universities
- Accelerated Programs
- Study Abroad Programs
- Faith-Based Schools
- Military Academies
- Womens’ Colleges
Related Links :
NACAC or National Association for College Admission Counseling
– Find information on national college fairs coming to your area.