There are many factors that contribute to the college application process and one of the most important aspects to begin with, is choosing the right school, among the thousands of universities in the world, that will be the best fit for you. First, you should figure out what it is that you want or like out of a college. For example, the location, academics, student life, tuition, and financial aid to name a few. This decision approach, however, is easier to accomplish once you have started informing yourself on the various schools that are out there. In this article, I will expand upon those two crucial and central matters in regards to applying to college.
To start off, you should determine the kind of location and setting that you are interested in, which could be on the east coast or west coast of the United States, or in the north or south, or even abroad in a foreign country. Perhaps you would like to live somewhere warm and tropical or maybe where it snows for most of the year. Moreover, you can select schools that are in urban, suburban, and or rural settings. The setting of a school also connects to the concern for safety, as it may be less safe in a city than in the countryside or safer in a small school than a larger one.
Another significant element to consider is the size of a school: small, medium, or large. Based on your preference, you can judge whether or not you want to go to a very active and social university or a more serious and less-spirited college. This very much ties into the student life of an institution as well as the general feel of the campus. You may want to go somewhere that has a particular religious or political affiliation, or no association at all. Many people are interested in the role of Greek life or perhaps sports or clubs and organizations; all of these components should be taken into consideration when deciding to attend or apply to a certain school.
The greatest aspect that will affect you in college, however, will be academic and this is dependent on if the college is a four-year private establishment or only two-year public school to name a few options. Accordingly, every college offers a variety of different major, minors, research opportunities, degrees, curricula, and other resources and facilities. It is important to make sure that the college that you are interested in teaches the fields and areas of study that you are interested. As for the curriculum, there is a great difference of the learning environment generated in a core curriculum versus an open curriculum. Would you want a university to completely and solely dedicated to their undergraduate student population or rather split the resources with graduate students as well?
Unfortunately, there are many colleges that are not affordable and that are difficult to pay for, which is why it is equally as important to know how much financial aid, merit-based scholarships, loans, or work-study programs colleges may provide.
As you can see, there are many factors that are involved in this complex decision-making process, but how and where does one find the information necessary to make this extensive research and fully comprehend all the diverse assets made available by colleges.
The most common way of getting a sense of the feel or “vibe” of colleges is to visit them. Most colleges organize information sessions and campus tours and some others also arrange overnight stays and class visits. Sometimes, admission representatives even hold information sessions in your city, a nearby town, or even your school. Fairs are a great additional resource to take advantage of. For example, earlier in October, a National College Fair was held in Philadelphia. Moreover, your high school may host college fairs a couple of times a year.
Connect with people. Get in contact with professors, current students, alumni, coaches if you are interested in playing sports, and even your parents if they have gone to a college that you want to pursue.
And of course, there is the internet. Use it to your advantage and have fun browsing different college’s websites. Even College Board has a special feature, called Big Future, to help you make a college plan. Remember all those brochures and flyers that you get in the mail or during a visit? Well, resist the urge to toss them out. Believe it or not, they can actually be helpful in informing you about what they have to offer and they can also help when you write the application supplements.
All in all, based off of all the reading up you have done on all the important aspects that were explicated above, you should ask yourself “Is this college a good fit for me”, “Am I a good fit for this college”, and “Can I see myself going here?”