Consider colleges that not only offer your subject but excel in programmes that are specific to your subject.
When factoring in all of the details involved in picking a college, many students don’t know where to start. It can be daunting; numerous students panic and overanalyze the fact that whichever college they choose will be where they would, potentially, spend the next four years of their life. But don’t worry - not every detail is crucial.
For students, several things play a part in choosing where they want to go to college, but not all of them are weighted equally. Some aspects of the school they chose are more critical than others. It’s up to you to decide which aspects of your dream college are most important, and then find a college that most closely fits what you want out of your college experience. Here is a list of basic factors to consider when choosing a college:
1. Subject Choice
If you already know your choice of subject, then this one is easy. You can narrow down your list of potential colleges by only looking at those that provide your subject or a related subject. Consider colleges that not only offer your subject but excel in programmes that are specific to your subject. For example, if one wants to pick international studies - you not only have to look for a college with an equivalent major, but also look for colleges that have the best study abroad and foreign language programmes. If you haven’t decided on a major, then consider the next few options and try to give yourself as much room as possible to explore.
You know where you stay or want to stay, or at least which places are tolerable! This isn’t a big deal to some people, but it is nevertheless important to think about. Do you want to be close or far away from home? Do you want to go to a college in a big city? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself. Take into account the local weather in the area, the seasonal changes and availability of basic civic amenities.
3. Public Vs. Private
Many of the differences between public and private colleges are dependent on location. Regardless, what I can say is that everyone’s unique circumstances lead them a different way. Public colleges are funded by the state, so they are limited in how much money they receive to provide students with financial aid. Private colleges, while also generally smaller in population than public colleges, can sometimes give more aid because of their private funding. However, the potential extra cost may be worth it if a public college has a good program for your major, or if you want to go to a really big college. Look at the colleges you’re considering and compare their financial aid packages, sizes, majors, etc. It’s all about balancing what is important, what you want, and what works best for you.
On that note, also think about how the size of your college will impact your experience. A large college means lots of people to socialize and interact with, but you might have to compromise your class sizes. If you want to have a closer relationship with your professors, you should go for a college with a high student-faculty ratio. Think about if you want to be part of a large, medium, or small student body. Do you want to walk through the halls and always see familiar faces or walk out every day into a big crowd? When you choose your college, you’re also choosing a community to move into.
When I say housing, I mean everything from how many people live on campus to any special dorm/hostel options. Not all colleges offer hostel facilities for both men and women, so if this is important to you, make sure you ask on your campus tour or search on the Internet. Finally, decide if you want to go to a college where most students live on campus or not. If you are going to a college close to home, it might be in your best interest to save on hostel costs by staying at home. But if you are going to be living on campus, you should think about going to a college with a large group of students who also live on campus. This way, you won’t feel alone or isolated.
6. Sports And On-Campus Activities
Even if you only play for fun, look into the sports programmes at colleges you are considering. Many students may not be interested at all in sports, but rather get into other on-campus activities. For example, there are also such activities as orchestra and other bands, fraternities/sororities, choral groups, campus radio, and more.
As I’ve already pointed out, you may not have a detailed plan for all of these things. I certainly didn’t. But even if you don’t care where your college is, or how big it is, you still have to make the decision for yourself that it doesn’t matter; which means you still have to think about it and picture yourself in that situation. If you’re not sure, just leave yourself open to the options. I found my dream college by considering these factors, and I hope you do too!