The issue of choosing a college is one of the most important decisions that any of us will ever make, and as the May 1st deadline for seniors to commit to a college for the next four years of their lives approaches, the decision can seem daunting. And many juniors are starting to build their college list, something equally as daunting. As it can feel like you are boxing yourself into the limited number of universities that you apply to. Now I am going to give some advice for both of those groups, who may feel equally scared about what the next step in their education may look like.
First, for the seniors, there are so many things to consider when choosing a school to commit to. One important thing to look at is the positive career outcomes at each school, this will tell you what percentage of students are attending graduate school, in the military, or working in their field six months after graduation. It almost goes without saying that the higher the percentage the better, this will tell you a lot about the career office, and the alumni network of that school. Another thing to consider are the opportunities to build your resume at each school, these opportunities include internships, study abroad programs, and mentorships. Not every school will offer you the same access to these opportunities. And obviously you have to consider the campus, the school community, finances, academic fit, and the location. It is also important to not choose your school based on it’s name recognition, in other words you don’t need to go to an Ivy League school to be successful, and sometimes it may be better to go to a less prestigious institution.
Now, for the juniors, building a college list can seem daunting and difficult to start. The most important thing to consider is whether or not the schools have programs you are interested in, and how good those programs are. A useful website for this is U.S. News, they rank colleges all sorts of ways. Another thing to consider is location, this is something that you have to decide yourself really, as some people like schools in large cities, and others prefer suburban schools. Possibly the most important part of location is how far away the schools are from home. Some of you may want to stay right next to home, and others may want to go to school all the way in California. Another part of building your list is finding safety, fit, and reach schools. I know from personal experience that between the time you apply for schools, and when making the decision things can change. You may not be interested in a school that used to be your top school, or you may have been rejected from some schools, so it is important to apply to schools of different admissions difficulty.
One final note from a senior living through the college decision process, do not stress yourself out too much about where you go to school. College is what you make of it, and you can be successful no matter what school you go to. Good luck!