The college decision

How to find the college that is right for you

Deciding what college you are going to can be very stressful. Knowing what to look for can help narrow down your choices.

Deciding what college you are going to can be very stressful. Knowing what to look for can help narrow down your choices.

Mario Shontz, Staff Writer

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Before the time we could walk, adults have constantly reminded us of the importance of attending a college or university after high school. They ingrained in our minds the necessity of receiving a college degree, the ultimate path to success. However, adults probably did not let you in on a little secret: choosing a college is not simple. Some students have their heart set on one school, maybe because their parent is an alumnus, or the school has a program of their dreams. But this is not typical, and today I am here to provide a few key features of a school to research when making your college decision.


  1. Size/Number of Students

The size of a college or university is crucial to examine because small and larger campuses and student bodies have differing advantages and disadvantages. If you are unsure of your major or interests and need more options, a larger school may be for you. On the other hand, a smaller school may offer more individualized opportunities and attention, though they tend to house fewer facilities.


  1. Proximity to Home

Living away from home for the first time is challenging for everyone, but depending on your situation, living further away may be even more difficult. If you are close with your family and plan to visit often, a local college may be a preferred option. On the other hand, moving further away may offer greater independence and exposure to a new environment and culture.


  1. Finances

Unfortunately, as you transition into adulthood, money becomes a factor in your everyday life, and college is no different. None of us aspire to have excess debt after college, so finances are necessary to consider when deciding on a school. Tuition is important to research, but do not discount a school for a seemingly high cost without looking into scholarships—both outside and from the college when applying—as well as financial aid opportunities. Consult with your parents or guardians about your individual situation and how you plan to pay for your college education.


  1. Campus Life

Especially if you plan to live on campus while attending school, campus life is a major factor to consider when making your decision. Research the living arrangements, extracurricular clubs and organizations, school events, the surrounding area’s activities, or any other aspect of life on campus you care about. For instance, if Chick-Fil-A is of paramount importance to you, select a school with the most Chick-Fil-A’s on campus. The college or university will ultimately be your home for the next four years, so choose the place that offers the most exciting opportunities for you.


All of these factors are significant to consider when selecting a college or university, but there is one that outshines all the rest: the feeling. The feeling that a school gives you when you walk on campus is ultimately the most important step to your final choice. Visiting the college is imperative, so tour each school you are considering—even if it isn’t on the top of your list. Ask questions, talk to current and former students, and discover what each school has to offer. Ultimately, your college decision that has been looming over your head for years is dependent on where home to you is.