By Sierra Caban
Choosing where you want to go to college can be a pretty daunting situation. There are so many factors to consider and things to keep in mind during the college decision process. In order to help you to remember all the things you need to consider when faced with the big choice of picking a college, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind to make your search easier:
- What do you want to major in?
This is the most important, in my opinion. What are you thinking about studying? Most colleges will ask you to declare your major during the application process, so you’ll need to have some idea of what you want to do. Look at what each college offers, in terms of academics. Also, think about some other things you might want to do. People do change their majors so consider what kind of programs you’re interested in and compare what each college will offer.
- What kind of experience are you looking for?
All colleges provide students with a different “experience.” At the Mount, we have a tight-knit community because the class sizes are small. You develop personal relationships with professors and other staff members. Other colleges tend to have larger class sizes that can sometimes make it difficult to build those personal relationships. However, these colleges may be more “sports heavy,” and sports are a large community builder. There also may be a college for performing arts, so everyone is involved in that somehow. I would recommend looking at things, such as are they a private, public, or community college, and what kind of extracurriculars they provide.
- How far away do you want to go from home?
For me, this was huge. I wanted to be close to home because I get homesick easily, but for some of my friends, being as far away as possible was better. When you’re closer to home, you have the option to commute or not. It all depends on what you want out of college. Being on your own for the first time can be scary, but remember there are others who are also going through the same thing. If you decide to go far away, be sure to call your parents every once in a while because they’ll miss you. If you decide to stay close to home or even commute, that’s great too! It’s all about what works for you.
Another large deciding factor: how much will it cost me? You have to consider things like tuition, housing, meal plans, scholarships, loans, etc. Look into this in-depth! This is something that will be affecting the rest of your life, so make the choice wisely. One tip: if you’re not sure what you want to do in terms of your major and you’re not set on any colleges, consider going to community college! You can get your general education credits out of the way then transfer them to a different college if that’s what you want to do. It’ll save you time and money.
- Listen to your gut.
When you’re visiting the school, think about what you’re feeling in the moment. You’ll be getting a lot of information about academic programs, housing, and financial aid, so it may be overwhelming. If you get some free time, roam the campus with your family. Think: “Can I see myself here?” What does the environment feel like for you? How do you feel about the professors, if you’ve met any? Consider all the factors above while you’re there. Is it all clicking or do you still need some time to think?
This is a big decision, so make sure to take your time. Don’t feel pressured to know where you want to go right away. Try to make a list of the pros and cons of your top choices. Make sure to visit the campuses, if you can! That’ll really help you to get familiar with the environment and to experience what it might be like to go there.