Choosing the right college or university is a tough job, and a very personal choice. Each person has to figure out what they value the most in order to truly pick which would be the best for them. Whether you are looking at Ivy League universities, Midlothian colleges, community college, private religious universities, or a public state school, there are many things to think about before taking the plunge.
Where do you want to live?
This seems like a stupid question, but if you will be investing anywhere from 2-10 years of your life somewhere, it is a valid consideration. What is the cost of living like? What sort of social activities are available? How far is it from your own friends and family?
How will you pay for it?
Will you be receiving financial aid in the form of scholarships or grants? Perhaps you have a savings fund that you will be using. This becomes trickier if you’re planning on using student loans, because the cost can vary wildly from one place to the next.
How important is the University Seal on your diploma in your future line of work?
Is it absolutely imperative that you graduate from a fancy school? Perhaps the job market is competitive enough in your field that it truly will mean the difference between getting the job or not. Perhaps it won’t. There may not even be programs at the smaller, lesser known (and cheaper) schools that you will need to land an internship or job. Do your research!
What are you hoping to get out of the experience?
If you are wanting to just get out of your current living situation and try something new, looking into schools can be extremely exciting! It could be the vehicle you need to move somewhere different and experience a whole new culture. There are also plenty of overseas programs to look into if this is your desire.
If your main focus is to further your career, or you’re serious about starting a new one, focusing on the actual programs available and what they offer is important. Do they assist with post-graduation job placement? What is the employment rate of the graduating class? Look at their alumni and see if they ARE where you want to BE.
Some folks want to go to school because it is expected of them and they want to go ahead and pursue it out of expectation. If that’s the case, really think about choosing a school that will help keep you engaged, having fun, and learning. College is a great time to really find yourself if you have an open mind. With so many different people and experiences, it’s easy to try things you never thought you would enjoy, and perhaps even discover skills you never knew you had.
Regardless where you go, congratulations on starting the journey! I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you chose the right school for yourself.