Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A College
YOU’LL GET LOTS OF ADVICE on how to decide on a college. Most of it will probably be good (“Can you picture yourself here as a student?” or “Visit the campus for a tour.”) but some of it won’t. Here are some of the ways not to make your final decision.
Rushing the process.
If you wait until you’re a senior before starting to think about and research the best schools for you you’re more likely to choose the wrong school or the one that’s “easiest” to pick. Start thinking about and exploring schools when you’re a sophomore and you’ll be much more likely to know the best schools for you to visit and apply to.
Following your boyfriend/girlfriend.
The strongest relationships will withstand the distance. (Most likely you’ll have more than one other serious relationship before finding the “right one” anyway!) Besides if you follow the love of your life to school and then break up you’ll have to share a campus until graduation.
Looking at the “published” price only.
There are all kinds of financial aid packages available to you—and not just based on merit. So you want to look at the “net cost” of attendance after any scholarships or other financial aid offered. Affordability is definitely a big factor but try not to make it the only criteria. Consider strength in your intended major location size and student mix/social activities among other factors.
It looks good on the website. Newsflash! There are professionals who are paid good money to design websites reflecting only the best side of the college. If possible visit your final choices to see if the reality matches the virtual world.
It’s “highly ranked.”
Rankings are arbitrary and subjective. What’s more important is a school’s strength in your intended major. You don’t have to go to a “ranked” school to get a great education and college experience. Use your own ranking system for what’s important to you!
Remember choosing a college is a personal decision. Don’t go by what you’ve been told or read. Do your research visit the schools that you’re interested in and then go with your heart and gut!