How to Choose a College, Part One
Guest blogger Vivian Kerr has been teaching and tutoring standardized tests since 2005. She has taught throughout the greater Los Angeles area and is a proud member of the Grockit team. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California and has studied abroad in London.
Applying to college can be a daunting process, but it is also an incredibly exciting time.
Attending university is an experience that will shape the rest of your life so it’s important to put some serious thought and consideration into your application choices.
Let’s focus on what you should take into consideration when choosing where to apply.
Choosing a major
You’ll be asked this question hundreds of times when you first arrive as a freshman on campus, and even if you are undecided (many students are at this point) or plan on going in undeclared, it’s a good idea to make a list of three to four majors you are seriously considering. If you’re flip-flopping between broadcast journalism and film studies, it would be wise to focus on schools that have solid programs in both fields. Transferring is always an option but it’s a lot easier to switch departments than to switch universities, and you don’t want to find yourself having to repeat this same application process in two years.
If you are hoping to be recruited to play sports for a specific school, you will need to be registered with the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse. Talk to your coach and find out when recruiters are coming to visit. Follow up with a personal letter explaining your desire to play for them.
Location, location, location
For many students, college is an opportunity to see the world. For others, they’d prefer to stay near family and friends at home. What kind of person are you? If you know you’d like to be close to a big city, focus your research on schools in urban areas like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
For other students, a smaller liberal-arts school in a less densely-populated area is ideal. In-state tuition can often be less expensive, so if money-hurdles are a concern, then perhaps sending away for applications for schools thousands of miles away isn’t the best idea. If possible, try to plan school visits.
There is only so much you can learn about a school from a magazine or Google Earth. Eventually, you’ll need to see it in the flesh. If you can, contact the schools individually and find out about their campus tour schedules. When you go on the tour, ask questions and take notes.
Now that you’ve put some thought into where you want to go to school and what you want to study it’s time to start thinking logistics. Before you seal and mail your college applications there are a few other factors to consider.
Check back for the next post on strategizing!