This is the post I wish I had glanced over years ago.
But I’m here now writing out a list due to my lack of “research” as to what a high school student should consider when making the college decision.
I’m just going to jump in because I doubt anyone will read a long paragraph that doesn’t start with a number in front of it–guilty as charged*
So here we go:
1. Make a List
When swamped by mail and advertisements for colleges, don’t fret. Make a simple pros and cons list of what you absolutely desire in your future education and what you can live without. For example:
Strongly desired aspects: Freshman allowed to have cars, apartment-dorms, study abroad program, a chapel on site, tuition and living costs, definite NEED of on campus coffee shop, specific classes like astronomy 101 with Bill Nye, and ability to graduate in 3 years.
Can Live Without: Sororities, live on-campus (if close to home), AP transfer credit, single bedroom, Football/Hockey, meal plan choice, short library hours, variety of majors, and package delivery/shipping center.
Those are just fun ideas to get you started, because only you know what’s top priority for the next four years. Your list could be positively articulate with study materials or great hang out spots.
Somehow colleges find ways to make you pay for any fee possible. One of my old roommates had a friend that didn’t pick up her mail for a couple weeks. The college ended up fining her for being negligent.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s worth asking about during a tour of the campus. You can always email the student services staff to ask about potential fees that appear frequently.
3. Majors and Textbook
Look at what you want to pursue for college and check out the curriculum for that major at your prospective colleges. All I have to say is that my engineering buddies always needed grand ($$$$) money when the new semester rolled around. It wasn’t the parties or gas money that got them deep either. As a hospitality management major, my textbooks were relatively cheap to rent and I made sure to thank my professors for their choices.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to socialize. Have an outlet, do something, mold your life into more than just the books. Something to consider when searching for the right fit is the environment and town supporting the college. Are there places to eat? Do you need a more outdoorsy city? Do you want public transportation downtown to see a movie?
Social life comes down to location, population, tourism, and flat out just things to do. Which brings up my next point.
If it’s a city in the middle of nowhere, is that going to bother you while you are getting a great education or will it drive you mad? Is the city-life too big for you and you’d prefer a more laid-back, calm town while you’re studying? The people and culture and definitely affect your way adjusting to the new life. So take in the possibilities of where you might like to reside the years to come.
6. In-state or Out
Both have their perks. Scholarships are definitely available for whatever path you choose, but it comes down to what you want and ties in with the location and climate points.
Such a big thing. I know people that spent XX amount of money at colleges to earn a degrees and the accreditation made them lose jobs to any opposing competition. If it’s international, regional, or national it doesn’t matter. Just double check where your college has it’s accreditation and if it will work for what you want to achieve ten years down the road.
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times…
I went south twice. No three times. The people and cultures were great, but the humidity killed me. It was October and instead of treading through snow, I was drenched with sticky humidity. I couldn’t go to class without feeling like I needed a shower. Weather is important to think about it. So, think about it. Any drastic changes from your home may result in you completely changing your wardrobe with new clothes that you probably can’t afford since those textbooks in number three took your allowance.
8. Envision Yourself
If you can’t do this with any of those college pamphlets , then toss it from your prospective pile. You should be able to picture yourself going to a college because you want to go there and you know it will provide you with the education, social life, and growing abilities that you need.
When in doubt, just try to picture yourself sitting down in the library or cozying up in the dorms while on the campus tour. It makes a world of difference.
9. Tour the Campus
It gives you the feeling of the campus and allows you to interact with enthusiastic students. Be sure to answer questions. They are there attending the university after all.
Apply no matter what people say or tell you. Sometimes if you apply and get into several colleges, you can barter a little bit with each college to get a better scholarship package.
Don’t follow your love of your life, like Elle Woods. If it’s meant to be then you guys will be, but don’t you dare choose a college because of your significant other. It’s not healthy and it probably won’t end well sad to say. Go to a college because you want to go.
So there you have it folks.
My short list of what you might want to consider besides the other tips you’ve been getting from close friends, family, teachers, and the colleges themselves. I wish you luck. May the odds ever be in your favor!