PI Girls, I am starting a new segment for Project Inspired called “College Beat.” These articles will include college questions you may have, advice on how to pick a major, what to do before college and other higher education tips!
Deciding on your college of choice can be difficult. Some of you might already have a list of schools that you really want to attend. Others of you might have no clue where you want to go or what you want to major in. I have tips for both! (Psst! Already in college? Read this article on how to pick your major!)
1. Location: Local, out of state or abroad?
First and foremost, I would suggest you decide the location of where you want to study. If you want to study locally, that narrows down your schools right off the bat with the local junior colleges (for those unsure of where they want to attend), and for those seeking state schools and universities, you will have only a couple of options.
2. Talk to your parents.
Next, seek counsel and advice from your parents. You want to make sure they are on the same page as you, especially financially. If your school of choice is expensive, you may need to seek out their financial help or even some scholarships or grants. Student loans also are common for many students, especially at universities and private schools.
3. Finances: Will you need financial aid?
If you choose a school that is pricier, you will want to go to https://fafsa.ed.gov to find out if you are eligible for any student government assistance. For example, if you are in a lower-income family or have a single-parent household, you may be qualified for a substantial amount of assistance.
4. Major/minor: What is your school known for?
In selecting your final school of choice, you’ll want make sure, if you already know what you plan to major in, that the school that you are choosing specializes in that area. U.S. News & World Report lists school rankings and which universities and colleges have the best topics of study; this can help you choose the best school for you.
5. School size: Large campus or private, smaller school?
The size of the school might have an influence on your final decision. Do you prefer a larger school or a smaller, more intimate or private college? You might want to do some research and consider this aspect of the schools on your list.
6. Connect with and visit your choices.
The next step in selecting your school is to contact and connect with your top schools of choice. If at all possible, visit the campus of each school so you can meet the counselors and maybe even some students, and get a feel for what your educational experience will be like. I did this when I chose to go to a private Christian university, and knew from the moment I walked on campus that it was where I wanted to be. There were certain bonuses that I was drawn to, such as the on-site chapel, the security and cleanliness of the campus, and the friendliness of the staff and faculty. Other schools felt different to me.
7. Be proactive.
Finally, remember to be proactive in narrowing down your decision. Do your research, write your pros-and-cons lists, call a counselor and, most importantly, apply for admission! Remember, all of these tasks—including the college application process, applying for financial aid, getting your classes and moving (if you’re going out of state or into a dormitory)—require a fair amount of time. So make sure to discuss these things with your parents, and once you’ve chosen your school, speak to an on-campus counselor to have them advise you.
Good luck, PI Girls! You can do it!
Do you have any other tips or pieces of advice that might help others choose a college?