Choosing which college you're going to spend the next 2-4 years at can be an overwhelming experience. With so many options, how can you narrow it down?
Here are 6 steps to help you find the perfect college for you:
1. Determine What You Want to Study
Many of the colleges that you're considering can probably be eliminated based on what academic program you plan on studying. For example, if you want to become a professional stage manager, there are only about 40 colleges that offer that program in the United States. This should help you create your starting list.
Not sure yet what you want to study in college? Many colleges will provide resources that help with career exploration to help students decide what program would best fit their personality.
At Hocking College, we offer a series of Career Pathway eBooks that help students find their ideal career based on the 50+ programs that we offer. Download one today and learn more about what a career in that industry would look like.
2. Find an Environment You'll Thrive In
The environment is the next thing to consider when choosing what college is the right fit for you. Do you like the weather where you're at, or are you interested in finding somewhere where you can have sunny skies everyday? Are you a fan of the snow or would your life be better without it?
Another important factor to consider when deciding where you want to study is determining if you want to live in a big city, small town, or out in the country. You can get a better idea by answering questions like:
- Will I have access to transportation when I am in college?
- Am I going to be eating off-campus a lot?
- How far away do I want to be from my family?
- Have I enjoyed living in ____________ (Insert: a big city, a small town, the country)?
- Am I comfortable driving X miles to the nearest town or would I prefer to have everything I need readily available?
- Do I want ride-sharing services to be available?
- Does my phone plan have signal at the college I am considering?
- Do I prefer the peace and quiet or do I like the hum of city life?
3. Figure Out Your Ideal Class Size
According to statistics published by the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average student-to-teacher ratio in most public schools is 16:1. Thinking of your own high school experience, was this your average class size? Did you require a lot of one-on-one time or were you comfortable with the size?
Depending on your answers, this might help indicate what class size you would thrive in. You can find the average class size on many college websites, or by using various college aggregate sites such as Google or Petersons.
4. Establish What You Can Afford
If you were a good student in high school, chances are you'll be given lots of scholarship opportunities wherever you apply, but that is not always to case for some students who might want to attend college after high school.
Always check out what scholarships are available to students. Many times there are scholarships based on county residence, activity participation such as band or choir involvement, and more. Additionally, you might be eligible for grants and other funding depending on your parents income level.
PRO TIP: If you decide to stay in-state, college tuition rates will be significantly lower than if you decide to go to school out-of-state or abroad.
Some schools will offer specific scholarships to bring students from other surrounding states, so make sure to explore the scholarships page if you plan to look outside of your home state.
5. Evaluate Student Life And Services
Are you planning to be highly involved and social on campus? Or is your goal to simply get-in-and-get-out?
Either way, it is important that you evaluate the student life options available on the campus you are considering as a way to see if there might be something of interest for you.
The key indicators to look for to determine if a college has a healthy and robust student life include:
- Event calendar
- Clubs and organizations
- Facilities available in the student center
- Academic support services
6. Visit Campus And See If It Feels Right
As cliché as it sounds, sometimes you just have to visit campus to see if a school will be the right fit for you. College is a huge decision and if you don't feel at home on campus, you probably shouldn't waste your time or financial aid on the place.
So there you have it! These 6 steps will help you choose a college that is the right fit. We hope you have found this article to be helpful in your college search.