Selecting the right college is essential to your happiness and academic success. You want to go somewhere that offers a good balance of great academic credentials coupled with lifestyle elements that are important to you. These can include excellent sports facilities, great on-campus accommodation and events, proximity to home and medical facilities. Whatever your needs, make sure that you pick the very best school for you.
Do the groundwork
It’s difficult to know what you want to do with the rest of your life when you haven’t had a chance to spread your wings yet. This is a common dilemma for most high school students and it’s something you need to focus on prior to choosing your college. By the time you get to the college selection point, you must have a strong idea of what career path you want to follow. Attempting to choose the right school when you are unsure of a career path is next to impossible. Start the soul-searching now to ensure that you have enough time to make a decision about your career in time for college applications. If you are really unsure of what you want to do, consider taking a gap year to give yourself more time. You can also consult your tutor or career councilor for help with making decisions.
Make a list of must-haves
When it comes to colleges, academic considerations should always top the list. You should always select the school that will give you the very best education. After all, that’s why you are going to college in the first place. Remember that the stuff you learn at college really is going to help you in your life and career, so make a choice that makes sense in the long term. Make a list of all the things you must have, would like to have and would enjoy having. When you visit colleges, take the list along with you. Tick off each item that the college has. Then you can see which colleges fulfill the most number of items on your wish list.
Rank the colleges you are considering into three categories. The colleges which are hardest to get into are in the first group, then the middle colleges and have a small group of colleges that are easy to get into too. Make sure you apply to schools in all three categories as this will relieve the stress of worrying about which schools you will get into and ensure that you have a backup school.
Beware the college brochure
Try as hard as you can to visit the schools or at least speak with students who are currently attending the schools on your ‘maybe’ list. You can’t trust online rankings or brochures to paint an accurate picture. Only you can tell whether you will be happy at a college or not – trust your instincts!
Filling in college applications is a long and drawn-out process. It’s worth it in the end and you’ll feel better having several choices, so just keep at it.