When it comes to beginning the college search, we understand that it can feel intimidating. With more than 4000 colleges and universities in the United States alone, you may be asking yourself, “where do I begin?” At Educate Midland, we’re here to provide valuable resources to better prepare our students for their journeys ahead. While the many options may seem overwhelming, don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to begin your college search and start narrowing down a list of your top schools.
What Do You Want to Study?
When beginning your college search, you don’t need to have a specific major, but it helps to have some idea of what you want to study. Consider your interests, career aspirations, and favorite classes in high school. Knowing what topics you’ll want to explore, will help you find colleges that offer, or even specialize in that particular field. If you’re set on a specific major, then you can begin narrowing down your list. Not sure what you want to study in? That’s okay, too. Many students apply to colleges as an undeclared major their first year to discover what subjects interest them, so don’t feel overwhelmed if you don’t have all the answers right now.
How Big Is the School?
Colleges and universities come in all sizes, from 300-student art colleges to state universities with enrollments of 60,000. Choosing the size of the school is all about personal preference; however, there are pros and cons to both. Larger colleges typically have a huge campus with a wide range of majors and big-name athletic programs. Whereas smaller schools usually have more individualized attention and give you a better chance to stand out since it’s a smaller student cohort. When it comes down to choosing, it’s really about which interests you more.
Where Is the School?
While you may be looking forward to the independence that comes with “leaving the nest,” you may also feel nervous about getting homesick. If you’re worried about missing home or enjoy the area you live in, you may take comfort in knowing home is just a few hours away. However, you might be looking forward to trying something new and traveling further to attend one of your top schools. When thinking about a school’s location, ask yourself:
- Would I rather be closer to home or further away?
- Do I want to live in a major city or somewhere quieter?
- What is surrounding the town that I like to do?
- What kind of climate would I prefer?
- How far am I willing to travel back and forth for holidays?
If you’re able to visit the school in person, you’ll likely get a sense of what it’s like in the area, which can help you make your final decision. Just remember, you’ll be embarking on an entirely new experience regardless of the distance, so enjoy the journey!
How Much Is It Going to Cost?
Going to college is a considerable investment, so it’s crucial to think about what kind of financial commitment you and your family are willing and able to make early on. The cost of attending different colleges will vary widely, and likely be a significant factor in your decision. Once you’ve narrowed down a list of your preferred colleges, do some research to see how the school helps students afford tuition through financial aid, scholarships, and work-study programs.
What Feels Right?
In the end, the first step to getting there is listening to what feels right for you. Gathering insight and recommendations from parents, counselors, and other resources are crucial, but make sure you frequently check in with yourself.
When it comes down to making the final decision, weigh the factors we’ve provided above to examine the schools on your list, and better understand your wants and needs. And from here, you’ll be a step closer to choosing the right college for you!