College Decision Making Decoded
When was the last time you saw an article or magazine touting a top ten list of best colleges in the world? Lists of this magnitude are created with the primary purposes of selling magazines. Period. The best university in Texas or California may have no bearing on your college choice because your educational goals and aspirations are solely yours. What you will do is ignore the glitz and gloss of the magazines and establish a working priority list of criteria this is important to you.
Take the time to answer the following questions in earnest. The answers to these questions will help guide you towards a working list of the best colleges for you and not a prototype of a hypothetical college student.
- What do I really enjoy doing?
- What do I not enjoy?
- Why do I want to go to college?
- How would attending school move me closer to my goals and career aspirations?
- What are my long-term goals?
- Do I want to earn a a specialized degree (nursing, auto mechanic, software engineer, cosmetologist, dental assistant, etc.) or a liberal arts education?
- How important is a classroom-based experience versus earning a degree on-line?
- Is a four-year or two-year program a better fit for me?
- How important is it to attend a school near my home?
- What financial aid opportunities exist for me?
- Which scholarships and grants can I apply for?
- How important is cost in making a final decision?
- Will I need to work while attending school? If I need to work, what are my job options? How will work and school coexist?
- Am I willing to move to attend college?
- Should I live off-campus or on-campus?
- Would I prefer a large university or small college?
- How important is a diverse student body?
- How important is the school setting? Would I prefer a metro college or a suburban school setting?
- Should I join a sorority or fraternity?
- Are my grades fit for a specific college?
- How rigorous do I want my academic life to be?
- Do I want to participate in sports? At what level should I compete? Would I be eligible for sports scholarships?
- Do I learn best independently or in a collaborative environment?
- Does my preferred degree of choice require teaching faculty with specialization? Does the school have the necessary research facilities and/or equipment for my major?
- How important is graduate school? Should I attend graduate school at a different school or the same college?
Finding the Best College or University
Now that you have a better understanding of what you want for your future and your self-designed criteria for college, it’s time to get to work on a list of college programs that fit your criteria. If you know the college degree program you would like to pursue, start here; otherwise, a general search on MatchCollege will get a working list in place for you to consider.
Unlike the old, clunky methods of buying a 600 page book to help you winnow down your list to a few colleges we live in an era where digital rules. Access to thousands upon thousands of state colleges, private universities, career colleges, liberal arts schools, and technical institutes are a click away.
Once you find a college or university that is of interest to you, simply do some research. Admission, course schedules, student services, financial aid, tuition, enrollment, maps, virtual tours, college credits, test scores, acceptance rates, graduation rates, athletic programs, nearby colleges, and a cross-section of degrees offered are all listed in a single webpage.
During this process, stay organized and focused on your overarching goals. Take exceptional note, stay inquisitive about the process, learn from others, and a clear roadmap of your future. For an in-depth process flow during the college admission process, read the MatchCollege Complete Guide to the College Admission Process in its entirety. For additional resources, make sure to visit MatchCollege and subscribe to our blog for the latest in college information.