How To Choose the Perfect College

Choosing where to pursue a higher education can be a stressful decision riddled with many influencing factors. Tuition and board expenses, geographic location and available degree plans along with student life should all be evaluated when looking for the best fitting college for your personality and pocket book. Following are some steps to help you get your ‘homework’ done on college shopping; remember to allow enough time to get planning for college done.

Consider your academic interests. While most colleges allow you to declare “undecided” as a major, it is helpful if you have some idea of what you would like to study so that you can find a school that specializes in the area with a specific bachelor degree or master degree.

List out must-haves and deal-busters. Decide the criteria that will take a college off your list of prospects. For example, location to home, size of student body, teacher-to-student ratio, accreditation, availability of online courses, financial aid opportunities and tuition are all factors that can make or break a decision on what university to choose.

Find schools that meet your academic interests and must-haves. For some, this may be two or three schools, for others it might be a couple dozen. You may gather information from the library, online, your school counselor’s officer as well as from family, friends and other college representatives that you may meet.  If your list is lengthy, dig deep in your college planning research so that you can narrow it down to a short list.

Visit the colleges on your short list. Campus visits will give you a good feel for college life. Depending on what the university offers, you may get to go beyond the actual tour and attend a class, meet with professors in your prospective degree program or hang out in the student union. If you are considering an online college degree, watch the school’s videos made available on their website.

Send applications to your top schools. While there is no formula for the perfect number to apply for, it is a good idea to apply to a couple ‘dream’ schools just to see if you get in, several more realistic options that have good odds for your college admissions, and then at least one ‘safety’ school where you are a definite shoo-in.