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Choosing the Right College

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Senior year is looming ahead and college application time is almost near. How do you figure out which colleges to apply to and maximize your chances of acceptance? This is a very serious time in your life, as the College you end up at is where you’ll be for FOUR whole years. So you need to make sure it’s the right fit. Well not to worry, here the whole process will be broken down simply and in its entirety.

There are 8 main factors that are important in choosing a college or university:

  1. Type of College – Public or private, four-year or two-year?
  2. Size – Do you want a small school, where no one’s a stranger or a large school where you can be as anonymous as you want? Consider the facilities that are accessible, the teacher to student ratio, etc.
  3. Location – Rural, urban, or small city? This can impact how often you’re off-campus and how your college experience is shaped.
  4. Major offerings – Large or small? If you are undecided about your major or think there is a chance you might change your major, large offering will be to your advantage.
  5. Campus Life – Outside of academics, do your interests and desires match the programs offered?
    • Sports and Activities
    • Housing and Residential Programs – Is on-campus housing guaranteed? What residential programs are available; do you want more than a roof over your head? When can you live off-campus; is off-campus housing even affordable?
    • Diversity – Exposure to an array of backgrounds and experiences can enhance and balance your transition from teen to adult.
    • Homey feeling- Go visit! Sit-in on a lecture, sleep over, talk to professors and students. Do you feel at home?
  6. Admissions Criteria – What are the average SAT scores and GPAs? How much weight does that carry versus personal traits and extracurricular activities? The closer within range you are of the college’s criteria, the higher your chances are of getting in. Regardless, you should apply to a variety of colleges where your credentials overshoot, match, and undershoot, also known as safeties, targets, and reaches respectively.
  7. Cost and Percent of Financial Need Met– If your family can’t fully finance your education and you don’t want to take out loans, will the school provide work-study opportunities and scholarships to help?
  8. Retention and Graduation Rates- Do people stay or do they transfer out? Do they all graduate within a reasonable amount of time or does it take forever for students to get their degrees? A good school will have high rates in both these areas.

All this information can be found for any college on the websites of companies such as College Board and US News. Keep in mind that the order these considerations are listed in is no indication of their importance in your process of selecting the right school for you; everyone is different. However, these are factors that you will need to consider not only in applying to colleges, but also in deciding amongst colleges when you gain multiple acceptances. Make ample time to soul search and really reflect on what is important to you long-term. Once you figure these things out you can assess which colleges would best help you get where you want to be in life. Remember there doesn’t have to be a perfect school, just the best fit possible. After carefully considering these 8 factors you should find your fit!

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