College decisions are out. There were some disappointments, but it’s best instead to focus on the positive – those colleges that admitted you.
Part of your success and happiness at an institution will be determined by your fit with the college. How can you know which college is the best match for you?
Don’t just look at the rankings or consider the name of the college, but instead, take lots of other factors into consideration. For example, look at the total enrollment of the school, both undergraduate and graduate. Do you want to attend a small school where you will get to know all students and professors, or does a huge university with lots of clubs and intercollegiate athletics appeal to you? Are you looking for Greek life? Do the academics match your interests? And what if you change majors, or have no clue what your major will be – are there options for you to consider?
Look also at financial aid and scholarships – this might factor into your decision-making.
The best way to decide where to enroll, though, is to visit! Even if you’ve already visited, you should visit again. When you visit during admitted students week, for example, you’ll get to meet other admitted students. Do you like them? Do you see yourself fitting in with them? If you visited a campus during the summer, it’ll be fun to see the campus come to life by visiting in April. And while there, take an official tour; stay overnight in the dorms, if possible; sit in on several classes, each for 15 – 20 minutes. You’re not taking lecture notes – instead, you should be checking out the types of interactions between students and professors, the sizes of classes (some large and some small) and determining the level of academic challenge.
Your college experience will be different from that of high school, and now you have the choice to make your next level of education what you want it to be.
When you’re on campus, ask random students and even some faculty members what they like most and least about the university. You should also ask questions like:
Why did you choose this college? What would you change about it? (People tend to be very honest.)
Take notes and pictures so that you can later weigh all the pros and cons from your college visits. If you visit several, it’ll be hard to remember one from the next.
Determining what college you will attend will ultimately be based on your individual preferences, and maybe what your family can afford. Seeing pictures, visiting websites and reading brochures will not be the same as the visit.
In the end, the choice is yours – go with your gut.