Decision Time: Picking the Right College


It’s March and the school year is already more than halfway over; by now your acceptance letters have arrived, and you’re in – congratulations! Here comes the hardest part: making your final decision on one school.

It is imperative to look for schools that offer the right courses and activities fitted for you, specified in the particular study that you wish to undertake. If you’re still unsure about what it is you’d like to do, an advised tip is to search for a school with a broad-based liberal-arts program. In addition, of course the school’s location plays a major role in the decision making process. It’s important to do some research in the area where the school is based. Find out what the town/city has to offer, what the area’s culture is like, and decide if you could feel at home there. The size of the school is something to think about as well. Do you want to be sitting in a lecture hall class, or would you rather have the student to teacher ratio to be much smaller? Do you feel comfortable without having more individualized classroom attention or would you rather have a more hands-on approach? If you think you might be overwhelmed at a large university, then highlight the schools with a smaller number of students.

Once you begin narrowing the selection down, you will most likely be participating on quite a few college visits, as you should. As schools offer very informative open houses consisting of information sessions, breakout sessions, campus tours, it helps to step away from all of that for a short while. Maybe stay a short while after the open house is over and just observe what’s going on around you. “Sit on the quad, away from the tour guides and away from the admissions counselors,” says Laura Hartnett, a senior at American University, “Then you’ll get the experience of the school and what it’s like to sit on the quad, which is a big part of being in college … [and] being a part of that community.” Here is when you think about whether you could picture yourself at that college or not and whether or not this is the environment for you. A rich social life is crucial in college, as it’s your time to develop as a person, meet new people, and try new things. Do some research on the schools you’re interested in and find out if any of the clubs or organizations catch your eye or if you’re interested in big-time athletics, make sure your school has the teams and sports you want to participate in.

As there are many steps in selecting a college, one of the most important factors to think about is the cost. Find out what the tuition, fees, room and board charges will be at your top schools. You should most definitely also find out what the average student pays after financial aid is factored in, as the results may surprise you. It also never hurts anyone to look into scholarships, as there are thousands of scholarship open to college applicants. It is extremely important to be mindful of debt post-college.

There are so many aspects to look into when it comes to picking a school. People are always open to talk about their college experiences and it’s never harmful to ask college alumni, family, or friends. However in the end, it’s important to go with your gut. “You’re getting harassed by different schools’ student/staff callers/emailers regarding why their school is the one you should attend,” wrote Benny Kuo, who aspires to be a college admissions officer. “I suggest [students] choose the school that FEELS right.” The vital key in your decision is that it has to be your choice and only yours. No one can decide for you and no one can properly place you somewhere. College is a time to expand your horizons and find yourself.