Ok, it’s senior year and everyone seems to be asking that golden question, “Where are you going to school next year?” You can’t seem to escape the pressures of family and friends wanting you to choose their alma mater because they had a great experience. While their opinions are valuable, remember that your college education is an important investment in yourself and your future, which is why the decision should be your choice.
If you haven’t chosen your school yet, it’s okay—don’t panic! But let’s start taking the steps to making that college dream a reality. Education goes beyond the classroom, so it’s important to consider what your overall college life will be like when you choose your school. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to be close to home? Do you want a small or large campus? Are you looking to get involved in student-led groups? Make a list of all the things you’d like to have and go from there.
Here are some things you should also do or consider before selecting a school:
While most schools would like for you to schedule an appointment before coming on campus, it’s good to make an unscheduled visit to get a better feel for what the campus is like on a normal day. If you can’t make the trip in person, consider a virtual tour of the campus through something like CollegeWeekLive then if you really like the school, take the time for an actual visit. If you’re visiting a smaller school, it may mean you want a more personal experience. If that’s the case, take note of how many people say hi as you walk by, ask if you need help or simply smile. If you prefer to visit a larger school, pay attention to what your walk to class will be like. Are there shuttles or campus buses available that will make getting to class easier? These seem like minor details, but are some aspects that don’t always get covered on a tour or in a discussion with an admissions counselor.
Now that you’ve visited some campuses and narrowed it down to a few you really like, register to attend their next open house. This will give you the opportunity to meet the admissions team and enjoy the red carpet activities they’ve planned for you. You’ll also get a second chance to explore the campus, perhaps sit in on an actual class, talk with current students and see if things are as you remembered. A second visit could help you make a more definitive decision.
When you’ve decided which school is the best fit for you, it’s now time to meet with an admissions counselor. Before you go in for your appointment, make sure to draft a list of questions you need answered. What’s tuition with room and board? Are dorms co-ed? Are meals included in tuition? What scholarships are available? These and many other questions will help you make a final decision on which school best fits you.
Don’t let this process intimidate you. Start early and take your time, college will be one of the best times of your life—we promise!