How to Find the Best College or University for You
For students who are looking toward their future, college is the first and one of the most important steps to take. Because of its significance, it is important for students to find the college or university that is the right fit for their goals and their needs. Parents and school counselors may assist with this; however it is the student who should ultimately determine which school is right. This is not a task to take lightly as there are many different aspects to consider. What a student should not do is base their decision on the choices made by others such as family or friends. What was a good choice for one person may not be suitable for another. He or she should also not make a decision on superfluous information. Only careful research and investigation will determine which college appeals to you the most.
Students will want to find a school that suits them academically. This is where one's SAT/ACT and grade point average will come into play. The student will want to ensure that his or her academic record is compatible with the type of students who enter any given school as freshmen. He or she will also want to choose a school that has a good academic record. If they know what course of study they wish to pursue, they should start by selecting a college that offers the right academic programs. A student should also be aware of the type of degree that he or she wishes to pursue. One who is interested in an associate degree can attend a community college as opposed to a university. A community college program is completed in two years, and is cheaper than a university. A student interested in a bachelor's, masters, or a doctorate degree or higher, will want to attend a university. Choosing a college or university that has been accredited and that is in good standing is also a must.
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For many, cost is a deciding factor on where to attend school. Some colleges or universities may seem too expensive and a student may write it off as an option. While it is true that cost is important, students must realize that there are ways to maneuver around high tuitions. Financial aid is available through loans, grants, and work-study programs.
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Consider the Location
Because a student will spend on average between two to four years in college, the location should be one that is suitable. He or she will also want to choose between an urban setting or a university that is located within cities. For some students, attending college at a nearby campus is ideal, while for others the preference is to attend college at a location that is across the state or even across the country. Another thing to take into careful consideration is the climate. If choosing a college in a location that is not local, the student will want to investigate what weather conditions are like at the college locations of interest. If a student hates the cold, but selects a college that receives a significant amount of snowfall, it may be an unpleasant experience.
Like the location, environment is an important factor that should not be overlooked when searching for the right university or college campus. The best way to get a feel of a university's environment is to visit the campus. This will be greatly affected by the size of the college campus. A smaller college may have a personal and close-knit feel while a larger campus may be more impersonal, but feature more extra-curricular activities such as sporting events or rallies. While activities should not be a deciding factor when it comes to picking a college or university, they can be a contributing factor when a student is attempting to find the right fit. The student should assess his or her personality when deciding what type of atmosphere is more comfortable. When visiting the campus, one should visit the school dorms to see what the living situation is like. Talking with students about their experience and what to expect will also give a fair view of what the school will be like.
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The Student Body
Fellow students can make or break a college experience. When visiting a campus, the student will want to pay close attention to the student body to determine his or her comfort level. The student should consider what is important in terms of student body. Is he or she comfortable in a diverse environment? When contemplating diversity, the student should think beyond racial lines, and consider diversity in socio-economic backgrounds, parts of the country or even other parts of the world. Is a conservative environment more suitable than a liberal one, or vice versa? College is a great opportunity to expand one's world and the people that he or she comes into contact with.
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