Five Tips for Choosing the Right College for You

For many people, going to college is the first step of adulthood. You might be moving out of your family home for the first time and developing the skills needed to study at a higher level. Where you have had support from family, friends and teachers, the move to college can make you feel alone – especially if you are not used to being independent. Where you choose to go to college can shape your future and affect your job prospects, friendships and finances. These tips can help you decide.

Near or Far?

You might be desperate for a fresh start in a new, exciting city, in which case, the world is your oyster! You could move cross-country or even consider studying abroad. Some people prefer to stay closer to home at a college in the same state, but far enough away from their current life to give a fresh start and a taste of freedom.

If you are a homebody and the thought of leaving your family behind makes you anxious, you might consider going to a local college, allowing you to stay at home in a familiar environment. There are also online college courses that could be an alternative to attending campus.

Follow the Course

Your choice of colleges will depend on what you want to study. Take time to research which courses in your chosen area are the most highly respected – for example, some colleges specialize in sports or the arts. An Ivy League school may sound impressive, but if it doesn’t run the course you want to study, it isn’t right for you. When you have a shortlist, check the assessment methods and the syllabus – the same subject can be taught and graded in entirely different ways at different colleges. 

Money, Money, Money

Going to college is a costly experience. Financial planning is vital – you don’t want to be worrying about money when you are starting the next chapter of your life. Sit down and make a budget, taking into account the cost of living in the towns or cities you are considering. New York City, Washington, DC and San Francisco are among the most fashionable places to study, but they come at a high price. 

Size Matters

If you are looking to study in a vibrant city such as Los Angeles, the opportunity to be anonymous might be part of the appeal. Smaller colleges such as Marian University pride themselves on their sense of community, which can be a big draw for introverts or people who are feeling anxious about leaving their hometown. Think about what amenities you require – there’s no point in applying to a college in a landlocked area if your passion is sailing. Likewise, if attending live music shows by some of the biggest names in the world is something you do every week, consider the impact of moving to an isolated area which rarely attracts the top stars.

Doing your research before you apply is so important and, if possible, visit the college to check it lives up to your expectations. College can be the best years of your life, so enjoy the experience and take in every moment!