Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your entire life. No pressure. It’s only the place you’re going to spend the next four years of your life, not to mention enter your 20s. Sounds scary, right? Well, it kind of is. People will tell you that choosing a college is easy, fun, and exciting. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be scary.
Choosing a college has a direct impact on the projection that is your life, so it is not a decision anyone should take lightly. I’m going to be honest here: I did not do any of the following things when choosing a college. Home was less than 20 minutes from campus, both my parents were alumni, and I may or may not have known a little bit about it’s party reputation. These are all the wrong things to consider when choosing a college. I only applied to one school and while I don’t regret my decision to attend West Virginia University but I do wish I had given myself some more options at the time.
How Close is it to Home?
Some people want to go as far away as they can for college while others want to stay close. When you’re choosing a college, make sure you keep in mind how far it is away from home. You may think you want to go all the way to the other side of the United States for college but realize that means you may only get to come home once or twice a year. On the other hand, being close to home means you can go home whenever you like which may or may not be beneficial. Being close to home also means there’s probably going to be a lot of other students you know from high school going there. While I enjoyed having classes with familiar faces, it can often cause drama and/or keep you from branching out and making new friends.
Is It A Party School?
Before you say anything, it’s not what you think. I am not suggesting you make “party school” a priority on your choosing a college checklist. That being said, the culture of the college is definitely something you should keep in mind. You may or may not party in college but understanding the culture of the colleges you’re looking at is extremely important. If you’re choosing a college that is a “party school” you need to be okay with the fact that people are more often than not going to party. Realize that your roommate(s), friends, etc. who like to go out probably aren’t going to stop just because you ask if it’s something you’re not okay with. More importantly, the culture of a college can affect you, your grades, and your social life. Be prepared for the issues and controversies you may confront if you put a notorious party school on your list.
What Will that College do for You?
I don’t think anyone really considers this when choosing a college. To be honest, I hadn’t either until I sat down to write this post. But understanding what a specific college can do for you can make your life (and decision) a hundred times easier. If you already have an idea of what you would like to study, research those programs at each of your choices! Are they outstanding programs or just mediocre? What have some of the alumni of those programs gone on to do is definitely something you should research. Additionally, cost should be considered under this category as well. If you’re paying top dollar for a mediocre program, it probably isn’t the best choice. It’s difficult to forget cost when choosing a college but I would place that at the bottom of the list of priorities.
What helped you choose your college? Was there one quality or characteristic you weighed more than others? Do you regret your decision? Or, if you’re a high schooler, what do you feel is important in your decision to choose a college? Let me know in the comments section!