When you head off to college, it's the place you're going to be spending the next four years of your life living, studying and making new friends. With thousands of colleges to choose from, you may be finding it hard to pick the one that is right for you. So when it comes down to making a final decision, it's really about where you'll feel the most comfortable. Use these five ways to help you pick the college that best fits your personal needs and wants.
Everyone has a different learning style and while some thrive no matter how many people are in their classes, others need smaller classes in order to receive the right about of attention to foster learning. It's not only about the size of individual classes either. It may be more about the size of the college in general. If you feel the need to be a part of tight-knit community with smaller classes then you may want to consider smaller private schools. If big city living is more your style and class size isn't an issue for you, then bigger colleges and universities may be right up your alley.
Location, Location, Location
It's important to remember that the college you choose is located in a city, town or geographic area of the country. The community that surrounds the college is just as important as the campus itself because you will have to live and interact beyond the confines of the campus. How close a college is to your hometown or where you have family, the weather and the geographic area of the country where the college is located are all factors that play in the decision making process.
While most colleges and universities offer similar academic programs you should make sure that the colleges you are considering offer the area of study you're interested in. There are schools that are rated higher than others for certain areas of study so this is something else you'll want to consider when reviewing academic programs. For example, if you want to study international business, then you'll want to consider the colleges that have the most graduates in the U.S. from the college of business.
College life isn't all about the academic programs offered and how many graduate from its classrooms each year. College is also about the extracurricular activities, social events and clubs that make up the social side of college life. If you're a competitive swimmer, you may want to consider colleges that have swim teams that you can try out for. If you're a movie buff then it may be important to you that there is an on-campus theater.
Comfort and Safety Level
Before making a final decision on which college you'll attend, you'll need to visit each campus. You can take a guided tour with a peer advocate or walk the campus on your own with your parents. Pay close attention to how you feel during your visit. Do you feel comfortable and safe like you fit right in? Can you see yourself living in the community, going to classes and participating in the college life that surrounds you? Your comfort level with the college will play a key role in the decision you make.
Every college has pros and cons associated with attending it. When you're comparing colleges, be sure to use these ways to help you create a list of your own pros and cons for each institution. The school that has all or most of the characteristics that are important is probably the one you'll end up attending. In the end, when you find the school that is right for you, you'll know it.
About The Author
Michael Gluckstern is the owner of My College Guide, an annual print magazine and website that provides a fresh and fun approach to the college admission process and college life. For up-to-date information on getting into college and college life, visit the My College Guide blog at www.mycollegeguide.wordpress.com or check out the magazine at www.mycollegeguide.org.