Choosing the right college is an important decision that can seem daunting, even if you think you have one in mind. There are so many options and so many factors to take into consideration. You’re likely facing pressure from your parents, friends, and maybe even your teachers. Take a deep breath – it’s all going to be okay. You’re going to choose a fabulous school and have a great experience. College is a chance for you to find out who you really are, who you want to be, and what motivates you when your parents aren’t around to make sure you do everything.
I was so overwhelmed by the process of choosing the right college that I didn’t even research – I just went to the closest one. It was a good experience, but I ended up staying around the same types of people that I’d grown up around. There probably would have been a college that was a better fit for me, but I didn’t take the time to try and find it. Ideally, I would have liked to go to a part of the country that was more unfamiliar to me and be around students who were less “party animals” and more intellectually curious (But that’s just what gets me going!). I encourage you to face your fears about the future and really find a school that’s right for you.
If you’re planning on going to college in the near future, here are a few tips to help you pick the right one:
Decide How Close Or Far To Home You Want To BeMy roommate freshman year had to transfer out of our school because she wanted to be closer to her family. She was driving two hours home every weekend, and because of that she obviously didn't make any real friendships or lay any roots at school. Conversely, one of my friends went to school in the town her grew up in, and he didn't feel he had enough freedom to grow and explore. (#Suffocated) Your proximity to your family could determine whether your college experience is successful or not. Spend some time thinking about how close or far you want to be. This is a big factor and could cut your search in half depending on what you're looking at. Source: iStock
Visit The CampusI know it can get expensive and may seem like a pain, but visiting the schools you are seriously considering will be greatly beneficial. Try and save up for this part of the college decision process. You'll be able to feel which one is right for you. Like a wedding dress, you'll "just know" when you've found "the one." (I watch a lot of Say Yes To The Dress.) Source: iStock
Be Realistic About DebtDon't live in a Magical Dreamland where you think that your debt will just disappear after college. IT WON'T. Taking on massive student loans is a big responsibility (and could haunt you for years to come). Be sure that the money you're spending on your education makes sense. Maybe you don't want large loans - in that case, you might want to narrow your options down to schools that are not super expensive. Source: iStock
Consider What Experience You WantNot all colleges are created equal. Some colleges are better for serious academics, others are more built for party animals, and others better for a literary crowd - and there are so many other types of schools out there! Do you want to be involved in Greek life? Certain schools are better at it than others. Do you want to be in a competitive environment with the best-of-the-best? Choose a college that isn't known as a "party school." Do you want a personalized experience? You might thrive at a liberal arts school. I went to a school that was known for Greek life but wasn't interested in that aspect- it made me feel left out a lot of the time. Source: iStock
Don't Choose It For Someone ElseNever, NEVER pick a college just because your boyfriend or girlfriend is going there. (I've seen that end in disaster more times than I can count.) Also, don't go to a school just because your parents have their hearts set on it. This is your life- take accountability for it. Source: iStock
Find Out What The Amenities Are LikeColleges differ vastly in housing, cafeteria styles, gyms, etc. Having a nice place to live can make less stressed and therefore more of a rockstar in the classroom. (Get those straight A's, baby!) Living on campus during the first couple years will also force you to make friends and acclimate to your new environment. Source: iStock
Talk To Current Students And AlumniThe college will try and sell itself to you (that's their job), but getting first-hand accounts of what it's really like can be very valuable. While your taking the tour, ask some students that aren't hired by the school to show you around what their experience is. They're likely going to be more candid. Source: iStock
Consider The Area It's InAre you going to be navigating through blizzards to get to class each morning? Does the town have nothing in it besides the college? Do you jive with the vibe of the place? The city your college resides in while actually play a large role in how well you enjoy the next four years. Source: iStock
Where are you planning on going to college? Let me know in the comments below!