How to choose the right college… for you

April 28, 2017

Now, we can’t exactly tell you how to pick the right college. Because ultimately, that decision is going to be up to you, but there are certainly tips for success when making your final decision.

May 1 is National Decision Day and because of this, you may be feeling extra pressure to make your final decision.

Check out a few of the tips our very own Vice President of Enrollment Management, Erin Healey, shared with viewers during a Johnson City, Tennessee-based TV segment earlier this month on Daytime Tri-Cities.

Rank your priorities.

It may seem frustratingly simple, and perhaps even a little cliché, but physically writing out your likes, dislikes and priorities can help you visualize what is most important to you.

So make a list, or several lists! Your priorities can include everything from location to class size, department reputation and athletic programs. Simply put, the best college for you will intersect with your highest priorities.

Most college websites are designed to help prospective students find what information they need in a quick and stress-free format. You may even come across additional nuggets of information that will attract you to that particular school.

Keep your eyes peeled for words like "Campus Life" on college websites. Chances are, that is where you'll find information addressing everything beyond academics.

And for more academic and program-related information, keep your eyes peeled for words like, “Programs of Study”, “Request Information” and, of course, “Academics.”

Compare aid packages.

It may seem like a leap and bound down the “college timeline”, but let’s be honest, money and cost are two of the most important elements to choosing a school. Thankfully, information regarding cost and scholarships should also easily be found on most school websites, like here.

Once you have applied to your favorite schools and understand how much aid, scholarships and other cost-factors are in play, analyze what is most valuable to you (as mentioned above) versus cost.

Perhaps one school has a higher price tag than the other, but maybe that is the same school with a greater opportunity for a more quality education–if that’s a high value to you (which is the case for most students) you may be willing to pay that extra amount.

An important piece of advice as you are looking at college pricing is to not get stuck on the price listed on the website. As mentioned above, you may receive scholarships and financial aid that could affect the final pricing.

Be honest with what kind of college lifestyle you want.

This is a big category, so take your time considering all the options. According to a 2015 article written by the Washington Post, there are about 5,300 colleges in the U.S. alone! That’s a lot of options.  

Do you want an outdoorsy lifestyle? Do you prefer urban living? Do you want to live on a more social or quiet campus? How do you learn the best? What about cost of living? Is the food on campus in line with your eating habits?

The list goes on and on…

Chances are there is a campus that can fit your needs almost to a T. You just need to go out and find it.

But how do you even begin to sift through those near 6,000 colleges?

Chatting with friends with similar lifestyle habits and even checking out a school’s Instagram are two very different, but effective; ways to find out if a school may fit your personality.

If you have time left, take a second look at the college in person.

Visiting a college in the flesh is one of the most effective ways to determine whether a school is right for you.

If you still have time before you need to make the final decision, taking a second look at a school can be a great deciding tool.

This is also a great excuse to grab some of your friends for a road trip–and who doesn’t love a weekend trip?

Take a couple of these tips with you on your college search or as you make your final decision.

Most importantly, however, remember that college will become what you make of it. So have fun, and enjoy the process.
Categories:  Admissions

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