How Do I Choose Just One College?
So you’ve been accepted to multiple colleges and now have to narrow them down to your final choice. Congratulations! Selecting a college—from application to admission to your ultimate decision—is an exciting process to be proud of. At some point along the way, however, you may have had some doubts, asking questions like “Am I making the right decision?” or “What will I miss out on if I choose this school over that one?”
When the time comes to choose one college out of all the ones that have accepted you, Colleges of Distinction is here to help! We’ve thought up some important things to consider so that your final decision is well informed and reassured.
There are several questions to ask yourself as you decide. Once you understand what your preferences are, you can feel confident and peaceful about where you choose to study throughout these next few years.
Does this college have programs that interest me?
- If you already have a specific career path in mind, choose the college that offers the programs best suited to help you succeed in that field. And if you’re still deciding what you want to do, research all the programs offered at each school. Whether you actually choose to major in one program or another, it is wise to pick a school that provides you the option to explore.
Does this school hold proper accreditations?
- Determine whether your potential schools are properly accredited to ensure that you get a high-quality, respected education. Accreditation is an official recognition by an independent agency that determines whether a university meets certain standards throughout its programs. Research your schools and their accreditors to find out whether they have qualified. Accreditation, or lack thereof, influences such aspects of your future as to whether your college credit is transferable, your eligibility for graduate school, and your ability to succeed in business, medicine, law, or any other field. (And yes, every College of Distinction has been regarded highly by accreditors and professionals in higher ed!
How easy will it be to meet with an advisor?
- Whether you ask a current student, a campus tour guide, or an admissions officer, make sure you get a clear idea of how easy it would be to seek out guidance from an advisor. Would you need to book an appointment with them months in advance, or are their schedules more flexible? Determine whether the amount of support available would be enough for you.
What are classes like?
- Class size and structure vary from school to school, and it is important to consider the environment in which you do your best work. Do you prefer to put your head down and take notes? Is your hand always in the air with a question? Do you require one-on-one meetings and feedback from your professors? You’ll get a better idea of your preferred class structure while you’re actually in college, but being able to think ahead about your learning style will help you adjust and thrive to college-level coursework.
Will this school let me conduct research or help me get an internship?
- How well do your potential schools help build networks with professionals beyond college? Consider how hard each career services department tries to accommodate students who are looking for that real-world experience.
What services are offered for career development?
- Whether you know which career you want to pursue, it’s important to know what your college offers to help you search for, apply to, and land a job. Such services as résumé building and editing, mock interviews, and internship listings can be instrumental in helping you shine as a prospective employee. A high-quality career development office may even help you identify your strengths and interests to help you decide what you want to do after graduation.
What is the total cost of attendance?
- Per semester, the tuition, room, board, and all your textbooks create a grand total that you should keep in mind as you make your decision. Many different factors will play into your cost of attendance, such as whether a school is public or private as well as whether you would be required to pay in-state or out-of-state tuition. A realistic estimate of what you can and can’t afford will be an incredible determining factor into where you enroll.
How likely am I to get financial aid?
- Are there scholarship opportunities available to you? Work-study programs? If any of the schools to which you have been accepted to offer specific forms of aid, you may want to keep that in mind.
How large is the school (both in campus size and the number of students)?
- How do you feel about the number of students at each school? Does it intimidate you? Does it bore you? Or does it sound like a comfortable size for your community?
What is the location of the school like?
- Is the surrounding area urban, suburban, or rural? How reliable and accessible is public transportation? If you will not be bringing a car with you to college, it is important to know what your surroundings will be like as well as how far and by what means you will be traveling both on and off campus. You may also want to consider the climate, especially if you’ve applied to parts of the country with unfamiliar weather!
Do you have the option to live on campus?
- At Colleges of Distinction, we believe that residential campuses with on-campus housing often have more vibrant, involved communities. That said, you may want flexibility in whether you can live off campus, on campus, or any combination of the two throughout your four years. Most schools require students to live on campus for at least their first year, but not every school can guarantee housing for every student. Understand the type of residence halls available, how easy it is to sign up for on-campus housing, and whatever else you may want to know about where you can live.
How do students spend their free time?
- Is there a variety of clubs and organizations on campus? What about social and sporting events? Volunteer opportunities? Hopefully, you have researched the types of activities available to you; how you spend your time out of the classroom and with your friends is one of the best parts of the college experience!
Narrowing It Down
As you attempt to make your final decision about where to go to college, it can be tempting to base your choice on the rankings you find online. But we encourage you to think about where you will be happiest and most successful. At Colleges of Distinction, we know that the makings of a great school are not in popularity, but rather in four areas of distinction.
No matter where you are in your journey to college, CoD has the resources and advice to help you make the best of your undergraduate experience. Congratulations on this huge step toward your future!