College is a scary and exciting thought for any graduating senior, but there are a few things to consider when choosing a college so that you can make the best decision. It's a place to grow and learn and prepare yourself for true independence. In order to do that, you have to pick the school that will suit your needs best, so here are some things to consider when choosing a college.
There are many things to consider when choosing a college, and this is perhaps the most important. It's vital that you be able to reasonably afford to attend a college if you plan on going there. There is nothing worse than graduating from college only to start your adult life with substantial student loan debt. Of course, it's all relative. I doubt anyone would begrudge you getting tons of student loans to go to Harvard, but if you're between two colleges that are about the same quality and one is more expensive than the other, I'd recommend going to the cheaper school.
Location is a huge deal when it comes to colleges. I know plenty of people that went out of state for college and ended up transferring back home because they didn't like where they were living. The best thing to do is visit the campus of your prospective college and stay for a weekend in the area so you can get oriented. It's also something to think about if you have a specific profession in mind. For example, it's a good idea for theatre actors to go to school in New York because that's where Broadway is, so the transition isn't huge.
Size matters! (No entendre intended.) Do you prefer individualized attention in your courses, or do you work better with a bigger class? That's something to definitely keep in mind because that has a huge effect on your college experience. If you're used to a small school, it might be a good idea to stay on the small side so it's not a culture shock. But then again, maybe you'd like to branch out and throw yourself into a bigger pond! Whatever you choose, just make sure you have a clear idea of what you're getting into.
If you're planning on going into a profession like medicine or engineering, it's super important that you know if your school specializes in that. By specialize, I mean that they have not only a specific program for that degree, but that it's a GOOD program. At the end of the day, an engineer is an engineer no matter where they studied, but you know that someone with a degree from MIT is the real deal.
Looking at the alumni list of a school is a good tool to see whether the school is good or not. The best thing to do is one of those "where are they now" searches, and figure out just how successful someone from that school with your intended degree is. That's not to say that a school is necessarily bad if it doesn't have any notable alumni in your field, but if a school does, it's a good indicator that the program works well.
6. Nice Campus & Dorms
You're going to be living there for 4 years, so you'd better like it! A nice campus is crucial in choosing a college, because if you're stuck someplace that you hate, you're going to be miserable. Find out if there are students gyms and entertainment centers, and what kind of restaurants are on campus. Definitely try to find out as much as you possibly can about the amenities in the dorms--for me, a communal bathroom was a deal breaker.
This is last because it's certainly not the most important thing when choosing a college, but it should be a factor. Some colleges are overrated, and don't live up to their reputation. But some do, so it's always good to know what your college is "famous" for. Names like Harvard and Yale are thrown around when talking about law, for example.
With these things in mind, you'll definitely be prepared to make the decision, even if it is a difficult one. Don't be afraid of going outside of your comfort zone with your choice in order to gain new experience. The most important thing is that you're happy with your decision. What factors helped you decide on a college?