When you search for colleges, there are a lot of things to consider and gathering information online can help. As you compare your options, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which career do you want to pursue?
- How much education do you need?
- Which type of college is best for you?
It can be overwhelming to answer all of these questions at once. In fact, worrying about making the wrong college decision can make some people decide not to go at all. Yet, the process of selecting a college doesn’t have to be so daunting. By breaking it down into smaller tasks, your search for colleges can be an interesting activity that helps you explore yourself as well as the careers you may want to pursue.
Tips to Successfully Search for Colleges
Not sure where you should start? Make sure you complete the following five steps to ensure your search for colleges is a rewarding experience.
- Figure Out What Interests You
You may already have an idea of what you want to study or what type of work you want to do or you may not be sure at all. Regardless of your situation, there are lots of resources available to help narrow down which career field best matches your goals and interests.
For example, mynextmove.org has a test called the O*Net Interest Profiler, which recommends careers that suit your interests. The test lists tasks associated with different jobs and asks you to check whether you like or dislike each one. Once you are done, the results suggest several careers that match your answers.
Another option is the Mapping Your Future website. By choosing one to three of six interest areas, the site recommends careers that may interest you. These areas include realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. The site describes each of these areas in detail.
- Research Careers
On both of the sites above, you can click on the careers listed in your results. Doing this will provide plenty of information on each occupation including specific tasks, knowledge, and skills that are required. Plus, your results will also recommend related careers.
You can also take a look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a report released by the Department of Labor every year. Not only does this publication describe careers, it also provides salary information and gives projections on whether there will be more or less job openings in that field over the next ten years.
- Figure Out How Much Education is Needed
Once you have narrowed down a list of careers you want to pursue, the next step is to figure out how much education is needed and what you should major in when you enroll in college. It’s also a good idea to find out if the careers require any type of licensure or certification.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook can help provide this information. On each career page, there is a tab titled, “How to become one”. Clicking on this will give you an idea of the level of education you need (certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate) as well as some of the college majors that are related to that field.
- Decide Which Type of School Is Best For You
The type of school you go to will likely depend on the career you select. Vocational schools can help provide the best training for certain jobs. Other careers require a 2-year or 4-year degree. There are also positions that require a master’s degree level education or higher.
Your learning style and your life circumstances are also things to consider when deciding on a college. For example, if you are easily distracted and prefer to study at home, getting an online degree might best suit your situation. Online schools can also be a good option for those who work and/or have children because they often have flexible class schedules. On the other hand, if you prefer learning in a classroom setting, then finding a college near you is a good choice.
- Use a College Search Site to Find Colleges
Once you have figured out your desired major and the type of college you would like to go to, you can search for schools online. There are many college search sites available, including:
College Atlas Online College Search: This resource is the perfect search tool if you’re interested in attending an online or a hybrid (online and on-campus) degree program.
Degree Search: Want to know more about a specific college degree? Degree Search is the perfect website to learn more about college degrees and even search for colleges on a free directory of over 7,000 nationally and regionally accredited colleges across the United States.
Although these steps make your search for colleges easier, you should take your time with each step. Use this opportunity to learn more about yourself and all the options available to you. Also, remember that you can always change your mind along the way. Even after you enroll in college, most schools allow you to change your major if you decide it’s not for you.
Natasha Bright is an expert researcher, writer and editor. During her career of more than ten years she has managed the content on several education websites. When she is not on the internet, she loves to spend time hiking in the beautiful North Carolina mountains with her family.