Choosing a college: 4 potential deal breakers

mapBefore you even start looking, think about what kind of school you’re hoping to find. Knowing where you stand on these four considerations is the first step in your college search - any one of these could move an otherwise perfect school to the bottom of your list.

Geographical region: Where do you want to spend the next four years? Do you want to stay close to home or explore a whole new state? Are there any places you know you don’t want to end up?

There’s no substitute for visiting a school to see if you’ll like it, but even checking out colleges close to home can give you a better sense of what you’re looking for. If you find a school that’s perfect in every way except that in your mind it’s too far away, take a chance and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. If you limit yourself to applying to schools within a 30 mile radius - you might not find what you’re looking for.

Surrounding area: Would you rather go to school in a city, town, or a rural area? A city will have easy access to movie theaters, clubs, stores, and nearby colleges. But, all of these options may be too much of a distraction, and cities are expensive to live in. A town or suburban area would be a good compromise between a city and a rural area. There will still be places to hang out away from campus and the cost of living won’t be so pricey. If you’re from a city, going to school in a rural area will either make you feel trapped or liberated. You’ll have to decide which.

Size: Bigger schools mean more options – more classes, majors, clubs, sports, and facilities. Smaller schools generally have more of a community and better student-faculty relationships. Think about which environment will help you learn better.

Availability of the major you’re interested in: Some majors are available at almost any college. However, if you’re set on a major that your favorite school doesn’t offer, you might want to start looking elsewhere.

If you’re stuck or are unsure of what you want, start by thinking about what you don’t want. Perhaps you can’t imagine yourself living in a rural area, but you can’t decide between a town or a city. Go ahead and cross colleges in rural areas off your list and leave ones in towns or cities for now. You don’t have to decide it all right away – this is just a starting point for your college search.


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