Tuesday, January 23, 2018

How to Make the Final College Decision

By now, you may be receiving acceptance letters to the colleges you applied to. Although regular acceptance is not until March or April, some schools do allow students to do early action to hear back from a school much earlier. Despite when you receive all of your letters, ultimately, you are going to have to make a final decision about which school you will attend. 

Personally, the college application process was very overwhelming for me. I had an idea of what I wanted to study and where I wanted to attend, but not enough of an idea to began preparing my applications for their deadlines years prior. For some, this process fared much easier than others, especially those who already had their heart set on a school. For those of you like me, I am here to let you know that it gets easier and you will make the right choice in the end. 

My highschool began preparing its students for college during my sophomore year, which was a time when I was entirely uninterested in discussing my future plans. During this time I had my first offical meeting with my advisor regarding colleges and we created a tentative list of schools based on the things I was interested in. By junior year, after going on several college tours and conducting research, this list completely changed. By this point, I had decided on my intended area of study, journalism, and I knew that I needed to attend a college or university with a program catered to this interest of mine. Luckily, this made my final decision much easier. Some of you may also have an intended major or college in mind, but if you don't, there are several things you should keep in mind when selecting a place to study. 

1. Options and Opportunities
If you applied to several schools or are stuck between a few, look at the bigger picture. Does this college or university offer a wide-range of majors or programs? Attending a well-rounded school, one complete with a variety of majors, internship opportunities, study-abroad opportunities and clubs/activities will present you with the best chance to explore many options. Plus, if you are going in undecided, you will have more room to select a major that fulfills your interets or one you can fall back on in case your intended area of study does not work out. 

2. Location 
The location of the school can impact your college experience. If you know that you are someone who likes to be at home, then attending a school located within your house range is probably in your best interest. However, if you are someone who is looking for a change of scenery, whether a few hours or a few states away, this is something to take into consideration when making the final choice. Also, take the surrounding area and the campus into consideration. Is the atmosphere safe and somewhere you will feel comfortable living? Are there activities and events you can do on the weekends? 

3. Price
For some, price is a factor to take into consideration, while for others it is not. It all just depends on your budget and what your family agreed upon spending on college. Private universities and colleges are automatically going to be more money than state schools, despite the educations you receive at both being just as equal. Some schools may give you scholarship money depending on what programs you applied to and that is another factor worth taking into consideration. 

4. Size 
The size of the school can make a difference. Personally, I wanted to attend a smaller school because I liked the idea of smaller classes. Large lecture classes did not appeal to me for undegraduate studies and are not the type of learning environment I would prefer, however, this may work better for some people. If you applied to a range like I did, then size may be something you should consider when making your final choice depending on the type of atmosphere you are seeking. 

5. Professor and Course Availability 
Schools that offer professors or assistants that are available to work with you make all the difference. Attending my professors' office hours positively impacts my class experience and the outcome of my assignments. I recommend researching programs to gain more information on faculty ability and their ratings before committing. Course availability is also important element. Some schools offer more courses and more options depending on the department. Registering for classes is not an easy process, available courses is a necessity.

6. Curriculum 
The actual curriculum is a huge, if not the most important, element of attending a school. Depending on your intended major, most curriculums vary from school to school. The School of Communication and the Arts is very strong at my college and is what drew me to attending it. I have noticed that my major varies from school to school, and it is worth looking into the departments at each school you applied to in order to get a better feel for the classes you will be taking. 

7. Housing Arrangements
When it comes to housing arrangements, each school varies. My school guarantees housing for freshmen and sophomore year but not for upperclassmen years. If you have an idea of what type of living arrangement you are seeking, such as a dorm, house, or apartment, then researching the housing options the schools you applied to offer is a smart idea. Incoming freshmen have little experience living with other people as it is, so it is best to prepare yourself as much as possible to create a comfortable environment. 

8. Food
Since you will now be living away from home, food is something to take into consideration. Most schools offer meal plans, but the price and options vary from school to school. If you are someone that knows they will be relying on a dining plan or someone with dietary restrictions, then this will impact your daily life depending on the choices you have. 

9. Transportation 
Not all schools allow students to bring their cars onto campus their first year. Depending on the school you attend, transporation could be limited. If you know that you will be relying on transportation such as taxis, trains or planes to get home for breaks, then it is worth looking into the transporation options your prospective schools offer. 

10. Work Opportunites 
Working on campus is a great way to support yourself during the semester. If you know that you are in need of an on-campus job while attending school, this is something to consider when making your choice. My school, for example, offers a variety of student-employment opportunities.

11. After College
Does your intended school assist you in your future endeavors? Will they present you with alumni networks and job opportunities? 

12. Night Life
Night life is something that worried me when I applied to colleges. Personally, I am not a huge fan of it and I can own that. Although night life is evident at every school, there are some schools with a reputation for it more than others. If you are like me or if you are the complete opposite and are interested in it, then you should look at your inteded school's party rates and school size. 

13. Greek Life 
Greek life varies from school to school, and if this is something that interests you, it is worth looking into the presence on campus. Some schools have large greek life programs complete with sorority and fraternity houses, while others do not. If you know that greek life is important for your college experience, attending a school with an active greek life will be beneficial to you. 

14. Safety Procedures
Safety is extremely important when attending college for the first time. Since you will be in a new atmosphere unfamiliar to you, the more safety the better. Some schools provide more safety than others, especially depending on the size of the school. Researching the extent of the security offered as well as the crime reports for your school can provide assurance that you are selecting a safe school. 

15. Student Retention
Are students returning? If the school you are considering attending has a high drop-out or transfer rate, then what does this say about the school? This does not necessarily mean to rule it out, but it may provide more ease of mind to speak to an official who is more aware of the statistics to provide insight. 

Thank you so much for reading and good luck with your decision! For more information, read this article here that assisted me in writing this post! 


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