Applying to college is an exciting time; you’ll feel like you’ve got your whole life ahead of you, and you’ll soon be surrounded by the opportunity for self-development and in-depth learning. There are over 5,000 colleges in the US, so choosing where to study can feel overwhelming. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a guide to help you make the right decision.
Find the Right Course
The best place to start is to think about what you might want to study and to work from there. Some colleges have a range of diverse majors and classes on offer, while others are more specialist.
If you know what you want to major in, make sure you apply to colleges that offer your chosen subject. If you aren’t sure, consider applying to colleges that offer a wider range of subjects so you can sample a variety of subject areas before making a decision.
For example, Excelsior College (https://www.excelsior.edu/) is a not-for-profit distance-learning college that offers a range of subjects, from business degrees and health science and nursing degrees to liberal arts programs and technology degrees. You can learn online from anywhere and get qualified in the field of your choice.
Find the right course and apply to colleges that offer what you want. It’s obvious, really!
Location, Location, Location
For some, the right college is one that’s as far away from their hometown as possible. For others, it’s right around the corner, so they can save money on rent while paying expensive tuition fees.
Others prefer distance learning, and it’s easy to see why: learning remotely offers greater flexibility and is usually cheaper than doing an in-person degree.
Some prefer quiet campus universities, while others prefer to head to a big city.
Think about your preferences and what you want to get out of college. The location (or lack of one!) of your chosen college can make a big difference to your college experience.
Talk to a Friend
If you know someone who attends or previously attended the college or colleges you’re considering applying to, talk to them. Ask questions about the professors, the course material and workload (especially if you share a major), and the general atmosphere of the institution.
This is an easy way to figure out if a certain college would appeal to you in the long term.
Check Out the Professors
Certain universities boast the leading minds in the country on certain subjects—but it’s not unheard of for the ‘best’ professors to be among the worst at dealing with students.
Take a look at websites like Rate My Professors to see if your future professors are well-liked. What kind of workload do they set? How do they treat their students? The answers are all available, so do your research and factor the results into your decision.
Will You Be Accepted?
Put bluntly, there’s no point in applying to universities that are well beyond your reach. If you’re still in high school, talk to your guidance counselor and think critically about realistic goals.
Not everyone will be accepted into top Ivy League schools, and that’s okay. There are plenty of high-quality colleges available that would be thrilled to have you as a student.
If you consider these factors carefully, you can rest assured that wherever you decide to go to college, you’ll have done your best to make sure it’s a good fit.
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