It’s that time of year again; when college-bound high school students know what schools they were accepted into, and now have to decide where they want to go. Picking your college is overwhelming, but there are things you can ask yourself in order to narrow it down.
It’s not easy, and there’s a lot of things to think about before you make your final choice. Here are 10 things you should ask yourself before you make your final decision.
Picking Your College: The 10 Questions
1. Does it have all of the academic programs you are interested in?
This one might seem obvious, but make sure the schools that are in your top few have all the academic programs you are interested in, not just the one you think you’ll stick with. Most college students change their majors at least once in their 4 years, so pick a school that has your other interests as well so you don’t have to transfer schools. I came into Loyola as a Secondary Education and Spanish double major, and now I’m a Digital Media and Visual Communications major. I made sure Loyola had both before I committed so I wouldn’t have to move again.
2. What is the campus life like?
Are you someone who has been dying to join Greek life since you were 7 and saw Legally Blonde? Have a certain club in mind, or want to join an a Capella group? Make sure your schools offer what you want so you don’t miss out when you’re picking your college.
At Loyola, while we have Greek Life, we don’t have sorority houses, so if you were looking for a sorority where you get the community living aspect, we wouldn’t be a fit. Don’t be afraid to do you research, the school you pick should have most of the things you want.
3. How far away from home do you want to go?
You probably thought about this before applying, but dig deep-down and make sure you think you can go however far your top school is before picking your college. Some people like to stay within a few hours from home, others want to go clear across the country. You know yourself well enough to know what is pushing you outside your bubble enough to grow, and how far will just be too far for you.
Listen to your gut, no one wants to get homesick mid-semester and have to drop because you miss judged how far you could go.
4. Can you afford it?
Reality check. Ick. I know. There’s a lot to look into with prices for school. While you could get loans to attend you dream school, would it be realistic for you to pay them off after you graduate? Be smart, and don’t get yourself in too much debt (which is really hard, I know).
Check to see if your school offers more scholarships for upperclassmen that you can apply for next year as well.
Worst case scenario-you have your dream school but there’s just no way you can afford 4 years there? Go to community college and get your general electives out of the way while working so you can save up to go to your dream school for 2 years.
5. Is Study Abroad Important to You?
Not all schools have study abroad programs, and many don’t have a strong foundation. If you know you’re going to want to study abroad, check to see that your school offers resources to get you to that goal. Check locations, and see if credits transfer easily before picking your college.
At my school, most of our students study abroad because we have an amazing study abroad office that works to get you exactly where you want to go. Check out what I learned when I studied abroad this past fall!
6. Do you want a school with an Athletics culture?
Loyola doesn’t have a football team, which I was okay with coming in, but if you know you want to be going to football games to support your school in the Fall, Loyola wouldn’t be for you.
Check your school to see what athletics they have if that’s something that interests you.
Want to play a sport just for fun? Check to see what club and intramural teams your school offers too!
7. How are the campus facilities?
This is one that is completely up to personal preference. If you want nice facilities, and great dorms, then make sure you are picking a college that has that.
I’d say the most important part about campus facilities is how good the dining hall food is-so I’d google the school to figure that out, talk to someone who goes there, or if you’re going to do more visits, try the food then!
8. What size school do you want?
I knew coming in that I wanted a medium size school. Big enough that I didn’t know everyone, but small enough that I felt like we were a community. As a junior, I can’t walk anywhere I campus without seeing someone I know.
Check class sizes too-if you’re someone who likes one on one time with professors to ask questions, a medium or small sized school is probably a better fit. If huge lecture halls don’t bother you, and you’d prefer to hide in the masses, then a big school would probably be a good fit.
9. How challenging is the school?
Yes, you’re in college to learn, but if you know coming in that you want to take part in the stereotypical college social culture and that your homework might slip sometimes, you probably don’t want to go to Harvard. Make sure your classes challenge you, but don’t pick a hard school if you’re not willing to put in the effort.
10. Does it feel right?
I know you’ve heard this over and over, but there really is a feeling when you like a school. Whether it was the fine arts building, the dorms, or the student center, all of a sudden you found yourself day dreaming about going to school there. And that? That’s more valuable than all of this. Pick a school that feels like it can be your home and run with it.
Breathe. You’ll know what school is right.