How To Select The Right College

The decision of where to go to college is one that influences the course of a person’s life. People you meet could be friends and business contacts for life. You might meet your spouse. Your experiences will affect where you get your first job and ultimately how financially successful you are. This decision is currently weighing heavily on my daughter, who is a high school senior. She knows she wants to major in nursing, but is struggling to come to a final decision of where to pursue her degree.

When To Start

We pushed our daughter during her junior year of high school to start thinking of where she would like to go to college. By the end of that school year, and into the summer, we went into full college selection mode.

College Selection Factors

There are several things a person should do to help them decide where to go to college:

  • Investigate Degrees Offered: Not all universities offer the same degrees. Make sure every college under consideration offers an undergraduate degree in the program of interest.
  • Consider Size: People have different preferences when it comes to the size of a college campus and the city in which it’s located. Find out the population of both the university and the surrounding city.
  • Location, Location, Location: Some factors that can come into play are proximity to home, climate, and available social activities. Only consider campuses that check all the boxes of what you’re looking for.
  • Determine Cost: Affordability is a huge factor when it comes to selecting a college. Make sure you talk to someone in the financial aid office about the cost of attending per year, as well as how much financial aid you qualify for to help bring the cost down.
  • Campus Visit: Once the above actions have narrowed the field, prospective students should schedule a tour of the remaining candidate colleges. Alos, set up a meeting with a representative from the area of interest to get detailed information about their program.

Apply For Admission

Don’t be afraid to apply to more than once college. If you don’t get accepted to one or more of your top candidates, that helps narrow the field. Find out when your candidate schools start accepting applications for the following fall. Many will start taking applications as early as September, almost a full year before you would start taking classes.

Apply For Housing

Shortly after colleges start taking applications for admission they also start taking housing applications for those who want to live on campus. My wife and I are insisting our daughter live on campus at least for her freshman year.

Since my daughter hasn’t come to a final decision between her top two choices, we submitted a housing application and paid a deposit for both schools. This gives her the best chance at getting the room type she most desires. I’m willing to eat the small portion of the deposit I won’t get back from the college she doesn’t pick when we cancel her enrollment later.

This provides a framework to help prospective college students select which university to attend. Even if the end result is multiple schools, by applying and even submitting housing applications to multiple schools gives the student extra time to give her destination additional thought before she has to make a final decision ahead of orientation and signing up for classes the following spring.

What do you think, Clever Friends, what determining factors would you add to the list to give prospective college students additional help in helping them select a college?

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