How to choose a university for the best possible college experience
So, high school graduation is fast approaching and you’re interested in learning how to choose a university for the next step in both your education and growth? College is a time to be cherished. But, making that first step and picking the right school for you will take a certain amount of research, knowledge, and introspection.
Below, we’ll provide information on picking majors, ways in which to find out more about your potential campus choices, and resources to help educate yourself on the overall process.
It’s All About Fit
Martha O’Connell, writing for NPR.org, offers ideas on how to choose a university while taking into consideration a variety of options. Like anything, she says finding the right college will take time, effort, and a certain thoughtfulness to boot.
Try taking a look at specific college websites to learn more about the campus. Find out what type of events occur, ways in which to pick the brains of current students and faculty, and then visit.
See what there is to do around town and get a feel for both the atmosphere and vibe of the city/school. O’Connell does mention sampling the school food, but if you’ve heard the horror stories of campus dining, it may be best to save that for later.
The all-important visit can show you what the campus has to offer: you can sit in on classes, meet with fellow students, and get a lay of the land. Try asking them if they had another chance to pick their school whether or not they’d still choose this campus. Who knows: the answer may surprise you. For a full list of questions to ask on your campus visit, head over to the ACT.org site.
Academics and Major
Obviously, both major and availability of programs will be a deciding factor for the soon-to-be-graduate. With that being said, many high school age students are undecided on the direction of their life post-graduation. And this is perfectly acceptable. Even — gasp — normal.
It is important to take into consideration which schools offer undecided majors at the outset; certain campuses will require that students pick a major upon entry. But most will allow for the student to go undeclared, which means they will be free to explore different interests in an attempt to ease into the major of their choice and find out what they truly love.
Other Questions (and Answers)
Should you be worried about picking a name-brand recognition school? Short answer: no. It will be more about the experiences and opportunities available to the student during this time than the pedigree of the campus.
And don’t be frightened off by schools that may be tougher to get into; simply apply to more than a few programs. To this end, the ACT.org website offers a college search page for students looking to help narrow down their choices. A prospective student can search by location, type, majors, size, admissions, and cost, in order to help them on their path toward deciding on the right college for their needs.
Most schools will send notifications out by April 1, with many setting a date of May 1 for acceptance by the student. If you don’t get into your dream school, don’t tear your hair out. There are always options and many times things work out for reasons beyond what we can see at the time.
So, in the end, it will be about all the research and trip taking you embark on during this time. When it comes down to it, though, your gut feel may be the most important indicator you have.
Go out, have some fun, and figure out what you want and which university will give you everything you ask for — Or at least most of it (hopefully).
ACTstudent.org: Choosing a College.
Above photo attributed to fabbio