Congratulations on your admission to college. The application process has probably been a long one, but now that you are at the end of it, it is finally time to decide which college you want to attend.
This decision will look different than other parts of the process – you’ll know where you’ve been accepted and what, if any, financial aid packages you’ve been offered. The power is now in your hands.
Still, undoubtedly, there is a lot of pressure to decide which college to attend. Here are 13 key factors that you should keep in mind.
1. Compare and contrast general education requirements
Some colleges have a great deal of general education requirements, while other colleges do not have any. Some colleges have strict rules regarding dropping general education requirements, while others are less stringent. This is why general education requirements are something to compare when deciding on which college to attend. You may like the idea of attending a college with strict prerequisites, or you may like attending a school where you can start your major sooner rather than later.
2. Consider your academic goals and research in the available majors
Look at each college you’ve been accepted to and see what programs and majors they offer. You also want to research the requirements for the majors in which you are most interested in each college to which you are accepted. Finally, you may want to explore how well a particular major is respected at each school to which you have been accepted. Remember, not all majors are equal in colleges. For example, some schools may have departments that are great for English but lackluster when it comes to biology and vice versa.
3. Keep college rules in mind when it comes to bringing credits with you
If you took college-level classes in high school and want college credit, check each college’s rules on the matter, as they can vary. If you’ve planned to bring quite a few advanced placement (AP) credits with you from high school, for example, you’ll need to make sure that the college you eventually attend allows for it.
4. Consider the size of the school
Because you may prefer to be in large classes or part of a smaller group of students, it is important to look at each school’s campus size, enrollment numbers, and class sizes. Remember that fewer students in a class will likely mean more interaction with the faculty.
5. Consider a mix of online and on-campus classes
While online classes give you the advantage of taking lessons from anywhere and in the comfort of your own home, on-campus classes allow you to interact with faculty and classmates. Depending on your schedule and if you juggle with work and other responsibilities, it may be more feasible for you to take classes online mostly, or you may really prefer to take classes mostly on campus. Add this to your list of things to look for as you decide which college to accept.
6. Look closely at the cost of attendance
Tuition and other college-related costs are often a big deciding factor when choosing a college, so look at room and board costs, the cost of living in each area where the colleges are located, and the costs of travel back home. Remember that the total cost of attending college is much greater than the tuition fee.
7. Compare financial aid offers
If you are offered student loans, scholarships, grants, or other financial aid from different schools, keep this in mind, as this can greatly affect the cost of your attendance. All schools will offer you different financial aid packages, which makes it important to compare and contrast packages to see the total cost you will get at each school you are considering.
8. A worker at the colleges site
You’ve heard the saying “location, location, location,” and it holds true when you’re deciding on which college to choose. Would you rather be in a big city or a small town? What parts of the country are the colleges you’ve been accepted to, and how easy is it to get home if you need to? Are there job opportunities near the university campus? Consider the site carefully.
9. Learn more about the community on campus
Let’s say you want to participate in student leadership on campus. Consider looking into the campus communities of the colleges you’ve been accepted to and seeing where you might fit in and thrive in a leadership role.
Likewise, if getting involved in a fraternity or sorority is on your list when you’re in college, research several Greek life opportunities to see which might interest you the most. You can usually understand campus communities better by talking to current students or alumni, so don’t be afraid to reach out to some to get their ideas.
10. Research extracurricular opportunities
If you are interested in joining a sailing team, the chances of a college in Kansas may be low. List your priorities when it comes to extracurricular activities and compare that to your list of accepted colleges to see if any accepted colleges stand out from the crowd.
11. Determine the resources available to support your career growth
For many people, it is important to attend a college that will help them achieve their academic and career goals, providing a solid investment of their time and money. You can do this by investigating how helpful each college to which you are accepted is in helping students secure internships, see if each college has a career center, and see if companies are known to hire job candidates on each campus.
12. Pay attention to graduate school success
There is plenty of data on how well students do at each college after they graduate, including what they do after college (whether it’s graduate school or joining the workforce) and what the average salaries of students at each college are after they graduate. Make this part of your decision.
13. Remember that no college decision is truly final
Even after a lot of searching, students can end up in schools that aren’t quite right for them. Whether students are changing majors, choosing a cheaper school, or wanting to move closer to home, there are countless reasons someone might want to transfer colleges. With this in mind, when deciding on a college after you’ve accepted your admission, know that you won’t be stuck. If the college of your choice doesn’t work out in your favor in the end, you should probably move on.
Whether you’re choosing between two colleges or you’re lucky enough to receive multiple acceptance letters, keep these tips in mind as you weigh your options. Ultimately, the decision is up to you when it comes to deciding which college is right for you, and the best thing to do is do your research and trust your instincts.