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How to Make the Right Decision When Choosing a College

February 27, 2016

You check your mail box and you see it; a letter from one of the colleges you applied to. With shaking hands you open the letter to see “Congratulations!” in big words, and suddenly all the work you put in for  the past 12 years seems worth it. You add this to the list of colleges you are considering attending. Now the only thing left to do is choose a school. Just when you thought the hard part was over, you are expected to choose where you want to live and learn for the next few crucial years of your life. Don’t start stressing out just yet. We’ve compiled a list for you indecisive seniors of the top things to consider when choosing the right college.

 

1.) Look at the programs they offer. If you have a field of study in mind, you want to make sure that the college you choose has the best opportunities for that subject. Do your research. If you are considering being an engineer, make sure you’re going to a college that offers a good engineering program. If you want to be a journalist, find out what schools offer a good journalism program. You can find this information on the school’s website, usually under academics. You’ll want to look for their degrees and credential programs. This will help you narrow down your options. If you are undecided in what you want to study, then you have more options open.

 

2.) Location, location, location. Keep in mind you’re going to be at this college at the very least for 2 years. Some of you will spend much longer here. So when choosing a college, you want to make sure that you enjoy your surroundings. First decide whether you want to stay local or go out of state, or maybe even out of the country. Once you know this, you should be down to a few colleges. The best way to find out if you like the atmosphere of a college is to visit the campus. Many colleges offer campus tours or open houses. No matter how much you think you want to go to college in San Diego, you can’t be sure unless you visit the campus first. You don’t want to make a decision on a whim and end up hating where you live. Check your emails constantly; often times colleges will send you open house dates where you’ll need to reserve your spot.

 

3.) Be realistic about the cost. As much as we’d like to deny the reality, college is expensive. And until this changes, money is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a college. Coming into college you’ll have to pay for tuition, textbooks, living costs, and even your parking spot. Although going to a private college may sound more appealing, you might consider starting out at a community college or Cal State. Many students choose to stay local for college and let their parents help them for the first few years. If you don’t  want to stay at home, you may consider getting a part time job while in college. Many places are understanding of a college student’s schedule and offer flexible hours such as Starbucks and In n Out. The biggest opportunity to take advantage of is scholarships. At this time you should be checking with colleges and your school counselor for any scholarship opportunities possible. Any help you can get makes a difference.

 

4.) Do your research on their sports teams. If you play a sport or want to play a specific sport in college, you’ll want to do your research on the sports a college offers or how good their teams are. You may get offered extra opportunities from colleges if you excel in the sport you play, which you should take full advantage of. If you’re hoping to go professional in the sport you play it is crucial that you go to a college that will allow you to develop as a player and show your skill.

 

5.) It’s all about the details. If you’ve considered all of the previous things and still find yourself struggling between two or three colleges, the little things may be a tie breaker for you. Do you want to go to a big or small college? Small class sizes mean more one on one interaction with the professors but maybe you’ve had your heart set on going to college in the big city. Search up the average weather for the seasons. If you’ve only ever lived in Southern California, moving to New York may take some time getting used to with the snow and real changes in the weather between seasons. Find out how diverse the campus is. Going to Chino High, you are probably used to a very diverse campus. So attending the University of Maine, where, according to therichest.com, had a student population which was 95% white in 2010, may be a drastic change to get used to.

 

Choosing what college to go to may get stressful. Focus on what is most important to you as a student and go from there. Remember, this is one of the most important investments you’re going to make in your semi-adult life so you’ll want to take your time when making a decision. No matter where you go, your college experience will be what you make of it so don’t stress out too much. As you enter the world of adulthood, we wish you luck with this and many other milestones to come. Make Chino proud, Cowboys!

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