Deciding where you want to go to college is probably one of the most overwhelming decisions you’ve had to make in life so far. When it comes to choosing a college, everyone wants to find the school of their dreams. But some students let bad reasons influence their college decision; reasons that can eventually lead to unhappy experiences.
You may feel like you have some great reasons for making your college choice. But it’s important that your decision is centered around your top college priorities and not solely influenced by others. Here’s what to watch out for when it comes time to pick a college.
It’s important to consider your significant other when making big life decisions. However, when it comes to choosing a college, put yourself first and encourage your partner to do the same.
In fact, allowing your relationship to influence your college decision may lead to problems in the future, causing you to be unsatisfied with your decision and resentful of your partner. Be sure to choose a school that is the best fit for you, regardless of your boyfriend or girlfriend’s decision. If you both end up at the same school, then it should be because it was right for both of you!
If you’re considering accepting or rejecting a college because of your current friends, you might want to rethink your decision. Just because your friends are going there (or no one you know is going there) doesn’t mean the college is -- or isn’t -- right for you!
This may come as a shock, but friendships can change dramatically once you graduate high school. Although you may plan to stay in touch with high school friends after graduation, it's common to grow apart as your new college lives unfold. Plus--one of the best parts of college is meeting new people and making new friends.
You’ll need to consider many important factors when choosing a college. Spoiler: the attractiveness of the attending students is not one of them! On average, most public colleges have populations ranging from 6,000 to 40,000 students. It’s impossible to gauge the attractiveness of the college's entire student body from a few select individuals you saw during a college visit.
Your social life in college will be important, but if you prioritize dating over studying, your college life may be short-lived. When it comes time to decide on a college, leave your fellow students' appearances out of it.
Some students consider rankings and reputation top reasons to choose a college. Even parents can get caught up in a college’s statistics! It’s important to remember that a college is much more than its ranking on a college website.
Although it is a good idea to make sure a college has a good reputation, image isn’t everything. Just because a college has a high rank and impressive statistics doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you. If you don't base your choice on factors that are unique to you, you may end up miserable at even the most prestigious college.
Although your parents should have a voice in your college decision, you shouldn’t choose or not choose a college just for them. It’s good to listen to the advice your parents give you when it comes to college, especially if they’re speaking from experience.
But remember, you are not exactly like your parents. Assuming all the colleges you are considering are affordable and have similar academic opportunities, don’t let your parents’ personal preferences overshadow your own.
Another factor that shouldn’t influence your college decision is an imperfect visit or campus tour. College visits are a great way to explore the campus, get a glimpse of student life, and learn more about the college, but not all visits are perfect. Many things can disrupt a campus visit, such as bad weather or a boring tour guide. Try not to let these experiences affect the way you view the college.
If a school seems a good fit in every way but didn't feel right when you visited, visit again, if possible. Don’t let one bad experience make up your mind about a college.
Although the size of a campus and its student population are important factors to consider, these factors shouldn’t outweigh other college qualities, such as majors offered, internships, and other academic opportunities.
Look twice at small colleges. Many do everything they can to make their campuses vibrant on nights and weekends. On the other hand, a large university may have an honors college that gives you a small college experience in a big campus setting.
Chances are, by the time you are a senior in high school, colleges and universities have already begun sending you mail. Unfortunately, the colored envelopes and “personalized” letters aren’t as personal as they may feel. Some colleges send out applications to hundreds of thousands of prospective students every year in an attempt to increase the number of applicants. Some universities reach out to students with certain test scores or academic and extracurricular interests.
Although receiving application letters in the mail can help you discover potential colleges, don’t say yes to any application addressed to you -- unless you have researched it thoroughly and consider it a good fit.
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