The entire college process can be stressful. Even after you’ve studied for the SAT/ACT, written a bazillion personal statement drafts, coaxed your teachers into writing you recommendations, somehow navigated your way through the FAFSA, finally completed your applications, and waited (not so) patiently for your acceptance letters to arrive–the process does not seem to end. After you get into a couple schools, sure, you’re relieved. But you have a strict deadline in which to decide where you’re going.
This is not an easy decision. With all the factors that go into applying for college, the enormous amount of paperwork and figuring out how to pay for it, some of the original reasons for why you applied to certain colleges over a different set of 12 colleges have gone out the window.
So, we’re here to help you loop back to those original thoughts that made you apply to the specific colleges in the first place.
Here are 5 things not to forget about when deciding on a college:
1. Your goals and passions
By the time you’ve gotten into some colleges, you’ve probably heard everybody’s opinion about where you should go–which colleges are ranked higher, which has a better reputation, which college has the best campus. It’s nice to have some feedback from your family and friends to work with but maybe Uncle Carl’s passion for the U’s football team isn’t why you should go to his college of choice. This is your college experience, so make sure you take into mind your goals and passions.
If you’re passionate about college football, maybe the school without a football team isn’t right for you. If you’re goal is to graduate in two and half years, maybe that huge party school is too distracting. Take into account your goals, your passions and which college or university meets those requirements.
2. The way you learn best
You’ve probably heard it way too many times to count, but everybody learns a little differently. Some students only thrive when they’re in the front row of a 15 person class. Others prefer to be incognito in the back corner of a 500 person lecture hall. Whatever your learning habits are, try to see how they match up to the schools you’re accepted to. A 40,000 student university will have a different academic culture than a 1,000 student liberal arts college. Where will you thrive?
3. The people you want to be around
There are different kinds of cultures at different colleges. Some campuses have more diverse student bodies than others; some have super academically competitive-natured student bodies. If you’re the type of student who is laid back about grades, surrounding yourself with overachievers might not be the perfect college fit for you.
The best way to understand a student body is to visit the school. Take a road trip with your family and get to know the school a little better to help make your college decision easier. You can start planning your easy campus visit trip here.
4. The distance from home
A lot of college-bound high school seniors get a certain bravado about how far away from home they’re comfortable being. Maybe that Australian college recruiter who gave a cool speech about surfing and studying during 5th period was convincing enough to make them forget about the 9,000 miles distance from home.
Take some time to really consider what you’d be comfortable with. If you’re a homebody, going to a school where you have to fly to get there will most likely restrict how often you’ll be able to go home. If you never want to go home again, by all means, go to school in Australia. Just make sure you understand costs of transportation between home and school and how it might affect the frequency at which you can go home.
5. Networking possibilities
Having a little foresight never hurt anybody…that we know of… For this reason, take a few mental jumps ahead to think about your life after college. As a college graduate, what will you want to do? Certain schools have strong alumni ties to the Peace Corps, others have connections with Wall Street. The alumni pool of your college might just be able to help you kick-start your dream career after graduation.