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How do I Choose the College That Best Fits Me?

Every year individuals hoping to attend college struggle with the decision of which college to attend. There are legitimate reasons for this struggle; it is not a decision to be taken lightly. The choice of college can affect the whole course of an individual’s life after graduation. The choice of school is a personal one that is based on each individual’s priorities; however, there are general criteria that will apply to most (if not all) college bound students.

Majors Should be Considered

In order to do this, the individual will need some idea of what they want to study. Many students in high school have no idea which field they want to enter, some even graduate without settling on a particular vocation. If they do know, they can find schools that specialize in their chosen field. There are career assessment tests online that can help them to find the right programs.

School Size is Important

The size of a school can make a big difference in the learning experience it provides. Larger schools tend to have a wider variety of courses whereas small schools have less of a variety but are sometimes able to offer specialized programs that are equal in quality to those offered by large institutions. What matters is the learning environment, and the right learning environment will differ depending on the individual student.

Prestige Should not be a Priority

To some extent, a school’s reputation can play a role in the value of a degree and in the student’s ability to find work after graduation. This is especially so early in their career when a recent graduate may not have much of a work history; however, this is not the most important factor. Choosing “brand name college” based on its prestige will pointless if the student is unhappy or unsuccessful there. Employers value experience and skill more than a school’s reputation, thus the likelihood of academic success should be considered above the school’s image.

Personal Recommendations Should be Factored in

The opinions of individuals who are attending college are especially valuable, as are those of anyone who has recently graduated. Special attention should be paid to those who enjoyed their college experience. Personal opinions should not be the only factors in a student’s decision, but should be considered along with further research.

Class-Size Should be Considered

Some schools offer large classes, sometimes attended by hundreds of students at a time. In large classes, it is unlikely that any one student will get one-on-one time with a professor. In smaller classes, they may be able to form relationships with their instructors.

Priorities Should be Organized

Prospective college students should make a list of the factors that are most important to them; these factors may include:
• The cost of the attending a particular school.
• The school’s location in relation to the students home.
• The school’s admission requirements.
• The religious affiliations of the school.
• The ethnic diversity of the student body.

The process of selecting a school should begin as soon as possible; as early as high school or even earlier. Starting early can help to lessen the stressfulness of the decision.