Finding the perfect college is a difficult task – full of anxiety and many unknowns. So many factors are involved in finding the perfect college: “Should I stay in-state or venture out?” “private or public?” “big city or college town?” All of these are extremely normal questions college applicants ask themselves, so don’t feel alone. The following are the most important factors to consider when finding the perfect college. Balance those four and you’ll land at your ideal college.
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1. Majors. Obviously, colleges and universities have academic strengths and weaknesses. They are known for being the “best” in a certain academic major or not offering a certain area of study altogether. If you’re an applicant that already knows what they want to study, find out which higher learning institutions are the strongest in that academic field. There, you’ll likely find the best classes, professors and career opportunities there and that will make it the perfect college for you.
2. Size. Some applicants will flourish at a large state university with 35,000 students, while others will find their home in a student body that more resembles a big high school. The size of the college or university is directly related to the professor/student ratio, but also the number of social opportunities, classes offered and resources available. Be extremely careful in deciding the environment and population you want to involve yourself with. Are you Texas with 52,000 students or Amherst College with 1,700?
3. Location. The feel of a true college town can be exhilarating; places like Gainesville, Florida (University of Florida) or Columbia, Missouri (University of Missouri). Those cities are centered around the university and most likely wouldn’t exist without the institution being there. In finding the perfect college, you may want the college town feel, or maybe not. Applicants that come from small towns may want to experience a big city. Say, NYU in New York City or the University of Washington in Seattle. Consider what type of location is best for your personality and where you think you’ll be most comfortable. Everyone gets a little homesick, but if you hate the city you’re in, that’s makes things a lot harder.
4. Cost. Everyone is affected by the economy right now and tough financial decisions are being made everywhere. College is one the most expensive and biggest financial decisions you and you’re family will ever make. Consider the total tuition cost and balance that against scholarships, grants and the amount of money that can be contributed. If those numbers equal out, great, if not, you’ll have to take out loans. A little student debt is normal and okay, but ask yourself how much you want to be paying-off once you graduate. Don’t get in over your head.
Finding the perfect college is a big, but exciting task. Factoring in majors, size, location and cost is a great way to start the process. If you make an educated decision, you won’t have to worry about finding the perfect college, it will find you!