College search is often a stressful experience because many people do not know where to start from. Taking admission in the right college is one of the most vital decisions of your life and you need to be sure that you do not make any mistake in the process. Careful planning is necessary for this beforehand. It is not wise to go to a local state university without considering other options. Before deciding on where you would you like to apply, you need to look at various colleges and universities. An important step of your college planning would be putting together a list of colleges. And to do that you need to consider those colleges that have what you are seeking in a college experience. This means putting together a list of schools where you will fit in and to which you want to apply to have a successful college experience; not only those which are rated high in the college rankings or which some of your friends are applying to.
A good planning process should begin with considering the colleges that fulfill your requirements, finances and personal tastes. A good deal of information can be obtained by visiting the college website or college forums for assessments of objective. Virtual tour of schools interesting to you can also be taken.
It is obvious that you would like to go to the best college possible; but have you ever thought of how to define the “best”? Best is not about the highest ranking but the one that fits your requirements and preferences. First of all, you need to figure out the parameters to choose the right one.
Some of the most important considerations to find out the right college:
Student Body: Consider how large and diverse is the college student body in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender etc. You need to decide whether you want a large community with lots of opportunities or one with a “small town feel”. Also keep in mind the faculty/student ratio. Make sure how competitive the student body is and how accessible the faculty are to students. You need to also know the average class size.
College Reputation: While looking for a college, consider how prestigious the college is because depending on this you will have more opportunities after graduation; the more respected it is, the more opportunities you will get.
College Location: Location of the college is one of the many important factors you need to keep in mind which looking for a college. Take a look at whether it is close to your location or not because you may want to stay close to your family or you may choose to go for a distant one due to some other opportunities. Also check what kind of setting it offers – urban, rural or suburban.
College Environment: It is important to see what kind of environment you will get exposed to in the college. You may like a familiar environment or learn to live independently in an unfamiliar environment.
Affordability: Cost is a vital factor for many of us. You need to know about the tuition, room and boarding expenses. Usually significantly cheaper tuitions for in-state students are available at public colleges and universities. Another important factor to check is if you can get merit aid or financial aid and if yes then how much. You need to keep in mind that if your college is far from home, then plane / train fares will add to the expense.
Expenditure: The college expenditure covers a lot of things like books and supplies, housing, tuition, fees for computers, specialized labs and so on. You need to calculate all costs well for the whole year and over four years so that you can understand you are able to bear the expense or not. When there are possibilities for financial aid, you need to explore them well to get benefited of it. To qualify for grants, loans, scholarships or any need-based aid or merit aid you need to know under what conditions these aids are offered. If you find it hard to cover on the expenditure ground, then a good idea would be considering a part-time job during the college days.
Academics: Before adding a college to your list it is important to be aware of the academic part well. Make sure of what kind of degree you can obtain from the college. It is also important to know how strong the college is in your subjects of interest and how the degree programs can help you in preparing you for a career you are interested in. Choose your major keeping the career goals in mind. For instance, if you are planning for a career in medicine, then how strong the pre-med program is. Also check whether there are undergraduate and graduate degree programs combined. Faculty members are an important factor to consider before deciding on choosing a college. Understand the credentials of faculty members. Those who have experience in the field are generally more effective as teachers.
Career Prospect: Get detailed information about the kind of career assistance you can get from the college, the success rate in placing students in internships and jobs, the employers coming to campus for workshops and the kind of employers having special relationships for internship programs.
Extracurricular Activities: You need to have an idea of the kind of student organizations over there and the strength of school’s sports teams. Take a note of what percentage of students lives on campus/off campus.
Appearance of the College: The building, landscape and attention to details in appearance, all these reflect the overall quality of a college. A well-maintained building and appealing landscape will give you an idea of the enthusiasm of the people you are going to meet and their pride for the college.
Overall Feel of the College: Short list a couple of colleges in terms of affordability and quality perspectives; it’s time to understand how comfortable you are in the campus environment. There can be many choices where you will find equal cost and quality; here the final choice should be the one where you feel just right.
Opportunities for Experimental Studies: Certain colleges offer an internship or experimental education facility to the students in order to get a hands-on experience. This is of great importance to grab a full-time job after graduation. So choose a college that provides such facility to the students.
The job of finding the ideal college for you can be much more convenient and easy for you as you use a college search tool to find a college. You can look for the websites having a search tool for finding schools or colleges. What you need to do is to put the required information and find the matches suiting the criteria specified by you. Mobile apps are also available to help you make searches while you are on the go. You can use the search tool for colleges to make comparisons of your top choices of institutions and take decision accordingly. The next step would be visiting the college’s website, looking at how the college presents itself, visiting the college personally, taking a tour of the campus and speaking with current students. Choosing the right college is one of the most vital decisions of one’s life and you should ensure to get hold of the right one for you.