Now that I'm about to start my senior year, searching for that one special college has become an even more urgent task. But thinking that the perfect college will just magically appear to you is foolish. Trust me, I tried that... but learn from my mistakes! There are plenty of things to consider when trying to determine what it is you want. Make a list of what you do and don't want.
Is living in a big city something you've always dreamed of or do you prefer the quaint serenity of nature? This is a very big decision as either choice will provide you with completely different opportunities such as internships, future jobs, and entertainment. I know I’m looking for something near a city. Something about the hustle and bustle of the nightlife has always attracted me. But that doesn’t mean a college in the countryside is worse. The peace and serenity of a more isolated college can be quite soothing to the soul.
How far away from home are you hoping to go? Moving across the country could be an exciting experience but the comfort of knowing home isn't too far is always nice. My comfortable distance is somewhere around two hours. It’s far enough away to feel like I’ve actually left home while it’s not too much of a hassle to get there and back. However, if you do decide to take the cross-country trek, know that care packages from home aren’t that hard for home to send. Mom’s spaghetti is literally only a phone call and a couple of stamps away.
While looking at colleges, one must be realistic. While attending a ritzy university could be fun, living with a mountain of student loan debt isn't. Research how much financial aid and merit scholarship money you're eligible for at each college. You’d be surprised by all the wacky scholarships you can find.
Attending a party school could obviously result in a lot of good stories and fond memories but remember why you're going to college in the first place. To get an education. You can find just as much fun at a respectable school if you know where to look. And companies are much more likely to hire you if your college’s most notable achievement isn’t that they throw the best ragers.
While visiting colleges in the summer is definitely easier, try to go when students are there. That way you can see the type of people that go there and where the hot spots are. Pop in the cafeteria for more than just a bite to eat. Would you be more comfortable at a college where leaving the dorm in pajamas is considered socially acceptable? I know I would. But if that’s not your thing there are plenty of colleges out there where you’ll find business attire to be mainstream throughout. Not only that, but visiting while classes are in session can also give you a feel of the school spirit. Would you rather have a more relaxed atmosphere or a D1 school where students bleed pride?
Family and Friends
Going to a school where a friend or family member already attends or is going to attend may make you feel much more comfortable transitioning to college life. However, this decision should be yours. A little advice from mom and dad or your best friend can be helpful but don't let them make the decision for you. This is an enormous change in your life and you should have complete control over it.
Well I hope this has all been helpful to you as you search for that perfect college. Don't blindly visit colleges without knowing what it is you're looking for. By figuring out what you prefer, you can drastically narrow down prospective schools and make the whole process much easier.