To successfully choose the best college to attend, begin by preparing a list of schools that interest you. After you have compiled a list of schools, you can narrow your choices by learning more about what each school specifically offers and compare your findings with the criteria you will base your decision on. You should plan on selecting between 10-15 schools to choose from so you do not limit your options.
Before deciding where to attend college, you must first determine what factors will be affecting your decision. Once you have created your criteria list, order them in priority based on how important that criteria item is to you. Take into consideration suggestions that others offer but most importantly, take some personal time to really consider what would make your college experience the most rich, fulfilling and life-changing that it can be. Not everyone has the opportunity to attend college, so be sure to set yourself up to make the most out of yours. During the selection process you should try to remain open and flexible since you could change your mind while conducting your research. Listed below are some criteria you can use to choose the best school for you.
A lot of potential college students select schools because of where they are located. Some want to move far away from home while others want to attend college closer to their homes. Insisting to attend a college only in a specific region will decrease the number of schools you can enroll in. After you have toured a few campuses, you might change your mind about attending a school in a specific region, so do not limit your opportunities simply because of where a school is located.
Campus Settings, Online Colleges and Distance Learning
For many people, a campus and the local surrounding are very important factors when deciding where to attend college. Some people prefer to live and study in campuses located in rural areas while others prefer big cities. Regardless of what you think you might prefer, it is not a bad idea to visit campuses in both rural and urban environments. We also suggest asking current students of the schools you are interested what they do and do not like about the campus before making a decision.
The other option students have when considering where to earn their degree is the option of attending an online university or taking distance learning courses through a traditional campus-based college or university. Many colleges and universities are recognizing that students are sometimes unable to make school their number one priority over work, family and other obligations. By offering this option of going to school online or via a distance learning program, colleges gives students the option to earn their degree without having to give up working full-time or give up other priorities that typically compete with school.
Many students decide where to attend college based on the number of other students enrolled at the school. If you use this approach, select a variety of schools with enrollments within your preferred range. If you would prefer to attend a school with less than 3,000 students, visit campuses with enrollments between 3,000-7,000 students. Also, be sure to visit a few schools with slightly larger enrollments before making a decision since you may change your mind.
If you are concerned about choosing a school with sufficient security, contact it to find out about security policies and the number of security personnel the school employees. You can also get into contact with alumni and students currently enrolled at the school if you have more questions. Another factor to be mindful of are crime rates in the city where the school is located if choosing a safe campus is at the top of your priority list.
Public vs. Private Colleges
The school you attend will either be a public or private school. Public schools are subsidized by state governments, whereas, private schools are privately owned, sometimes by religious organizations. In most cases, it is more expensive to attend a private school. Students attending state funded colleges outside their home states will also pay more money until they can establish residency within the state. Private schools also often have smaller student bodies while some public schools have enrollments exceeding 35,000 students.
Private universities and colleges usually cost more to attend since they rely exclusively on tuition and private donations for funding, but most private schools provide more scholarships for students than public schools. As mentioned, private schools usually have smaller student bodies so class sizes are often small. Since a private school is located in every state other than Wyoming, if you would like to attend a private school, you will have a variety of options.
Religious vs. Non-Denominational
Private schools are usually not owned by religious organizations, but those that are, sometimes require students to take religion classes. Some schools managed by religious organizations do not require students to take religion courses or participate in any worship services. Many privately owned religious colleges or universities permit numerous religious groups to use campus facilities for worship services.
Single-sex vs. Coed
Throughout the United States, there are 82 colleges that only admit women. According to some research, women who attend these schools perform better academically and have a better college experience. Some attribute this to the fact that these institutions have more women working as professors. Many women who have graduated from all women colleges have gone on to work in important positions in business and government.
A very important criteria you must consider when selecting a college is specific majors or specializations offered by the school. Certain schools may not offer the major you plan to pursue or only offer one major or specialization students can study. Likewise, if you have interest conducting research some schools offer more research opportunities than others. Students interested in attending college in a diverse academic environment should not attend a school offering only one major or specialization.
Structured vs. Free Environment
Each college or university has separate major requirements. Some schools may have very specific courses in their major programs than others; whereas, some schools permit students greater freedom when selecting courses for their specific majors. You should consider whether you prefer very specific requirements or more options when selecting major courses before determining where to study.