Choosing the Right College For You

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College acceptance letters have been sent out, and you now have a better idea of your options. Maybe you weren’t accepted by your top choice of colleges, and that’s okay. We’ve already discussed lessons you can learn from rejection. Chances are good that you still have a decision to make between the schools that did send you acceptance letters. A lot of students put pressure on themselves to pick the “right” school. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Let’s look at some ways to discover which school is right for you.

Cost

As much as you may not want to base your decision on cost alone, it’s important to realize that cost is definitely a determining factor in deciding which school you’ll attend. Talk to you parents to get their input on what you can realistically afford, but don’t forget to take financal aid packages into consideration. Talk to each school’s financial aid office to determine what they have to offer. You can find a handy comparison tool at The College Board’s website, but it’s always good to talk to a financial aid representative to be sure you understand everything thoroughly.

Location

Be honest with yourself. Do you want to go to a school that’s near your hometown or are you feeling adventurous? Students sometimes tell themselves they’re ready to get away from the constraints of home, and decide to travel out of state for college, only to find themselves incredibly homesick once they get there. You know yourself best. It’s okay to start closer to home and gain your independence gradually.

Size

This is a big one as well. Will you be happy walking long distances to class each day, surrounded by tons of people on a large campus or would you prefer the more intimate surroundings of a smaller school? If you thrive on interactions with people and love the feel of a big city, a larger, metropolitan school may be for you. Otherwise, you may decide to stick with the smaller schools on your list.

Policies

Did you apply to both private and public schools? Each type has its own kinds of governing policies. Often times, private institutions, especially ones with religious affiliation, may have rules and policies that are more stringent than public schools. Ask questions of the admissions representatives at your prospective schools.

Of course, this list doesn’t cover all of the points to consider. You’ll want to look at academics, programs, and faculty as well. Take a trip to your top two or three picks to really get a feel for the atmosphere. Most importantly, trust your instincts.

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