8 Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

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Selecting the right college to attend is a very tough and very important decision. This article includes information on different factors to keep in mind when choosing the best college for you.
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While high school is tough, college is tougher. One of the first major choices for you as a young adult is your university or junior college; a decision that will affect the next several years of your life. While most students take parental desires, location of friends and university costs into consideration, there are also other equally important factors that should not be overlooked in the decision-making process.

Ideal Environment:

College isn't just a place for intellectual development--it is a place for social and personal development as well. Your level of involvement is an integral part of the experience so you should carefully consider the social aspect of any schools you're considering.

Distance from Home:

For many students, college can be a time of exploration. However, for other students, 'Home' is where the family is. Decide whether you would benefit from a new environment and people with backgrounds different from yours, or if you are more likely to thrive in a secure and familiar setting.

Commitment to Major Field:

Don't choose a college because of its reputation for specific programs unless you're strongly committed to one major. If you're likely to change your mind a few times, choose a school where you can take time to explore all your options.

Curriculum:

Some people perform better and learn more in a college that has a core curriculum or a number of requirements for graduation while others prefer exploring new fields on their own. Will you benefit from a structured curriculum, or do you want to develop new interests in your own time?

Academic Pressure:

More often than not, students fail in college due to the academic pressure--a lack of intellectual ability is rarely the problem. Evaluate carefully what the colleges you are considering expect of their students and how much you want to be pushed. Here's one tip: select a college that has an SAT or ACT average similar to your own to ensure that you are on the same page as the rest of the student body.

What's Important to You:

Do you care more about a college's prestige, its standpoint on religion or its tolerance for a student's personal values? Colleges that blend both values and prestige tend to be either extremely small, extremely selective or both. The best way to assess the school's values is to explore the demographics of the student body. Find out if students volunteer, if the school offers courses in ethics or if the teachers encourage cooperation over competition.

Location:

Do you thrive on the excitement and adventure of the city? Or do you feel more secure in a rural area? Are you a sun-worshipper or do you hide indoors at the first sign of snow? Although your surroundings shouldn't be the deciding factor, they are a definitely important when determining where you'd be the most comfortable.

Institutional Size:

Although some people are adaptive enough to fit in at either a large or small college, most people find that one size will fit their needs better than another. A large college can be exciting, but lonely; a small college can be friendly, yet stifling. If you learn best by listening and observing, a large college might be best for you. Conversely, a small college will offer more hands-on training, but less diversity in curriculum.

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What is your highest level of education completed?