Choosing a School to Attend
When deciding on a college to attend, you may have several factors that influence your eventual decision. Perhaps a parent is an alumna of a university and is encouraging you to follow in his or her footsteps. Maybe you are a fan of a particular school’s athletic team, and are envisioning yourself cheering from the sidelines (or even wearing that team’s jersey!). You may be considering online degree programs as a way to pursue an education while you continue working. Whatever your situation, making an informed decision about college is always a good idea.
Keep Finances in Mind
According to the College Board, the average cost for students who attend a 4 year public college is around $17,000 per year; that average cost jumps up to around $34,000 a year for students of private universities. If you are a member of a family whose financial resources are limited, these costs may prohibit your college choices. However, making use of financial aid may allow you to attend a more expensive university, so do not automatically cross a school off of your list simply due to costs. Choosing a school that is close to home will also help you save on costs—your family will surely welcome your visits back home for laundry catch-up and grocery restocks! The best advice is to narrow your possible choices down based on a holistic view: keep academics, social atmosphere, and costs all in mind as you think about where you will attend college.
Keep Academics in Mind
If you have an idea of what you may like to declare as a major, begin researching how strong a particular college is in that area. Many universities are renown for certain areas of study; a school that is particularly excellent in the sciences may not have such a strong literature department. Of course, you may not have any idea of your major when you are just starting college, in which case you need to make sure that your college choice has strong academics in all areas.
Keeping finances and academics at the forefront of your college decision will help you narrow down your college choices; however, you may also determine your university based on social aspects, like how vibrant the intramural teams are, or if the school has a developed fraternity and sorority life. However, remember that no matter how well-thought out your choice is, you can always transfer colleges if you decide that the one you have chosen turns out not to be the best choice for you. In other words, your first choice for a college doesn’t necessarily have to be your last.