Deciding where you want to spend the four most chaotic, transitional, amazing years of your life is a huge deal. There are so many variables to consider when choosing a college: academic, social, geographical, financial…. the list goes on and on. It can be nearly impossible to take it all into account when you’re choosing a school, but I believe these ten questions are absolutely essential to consider when you’re trying to decide where you belong.
These questions are a mix of serious and not-so-serious factors and, much like college itself, these prompt you to really think about what you want out of life and who you are. I strongly suggest going through all of these and being totally honest with yourself when answering.
What kind of learning environment works well for me?
Some people love the anonymity of large, slightly impersonal lectures. If you’re one of those, a big state school might be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you feel academically inspired when you participate in small, intimate discussion-based courses, a liberal arts school might be a better bet.
Can I really handle being far away from my family?
Being out on your own might sound like a lot of fun – and it is – but it’s also scary. If you feel like you’ll really miss your parents or home throughout college, you should consider staying close. You can live an hour away from campus, live at home and commute for a few months, stay in-state – whatever works for you is the right decision.
Do I want to stick with my high school friends or re-invent myself?
Some people love the comfort of having high school friends on campus. Others? Not so much. Consider whether you would prefer to see familiar faces all over campus or avoid them, more often than not. Then, decide whether attending the local college is right (or wrong!) for your preference.
What should I major in?
This is an obvious one, but it’s also a lot more difficult than most people think. Here’s how I see it: You don’t need to know your exact major before you start school, but you should at least have some idea of you want to study. If you love sciences, go to a school that prioritizes them. If you’re more of a literature buff, go somewhere with a killer English department.
What kind of setting makes me the happiest?
Academics are obviously so, so important when deciding where you want to go to school but your personal happiness really matters as well. Do you prefer a quiet, rural setting? A sprawling, energetic campus? An urban location that allows you to get off campus? This is SUCH an important question and will make a huge difference in your overall happiness at school.
Am I only considering this school because of my boyfriend/girlfriend/BFF?
Listen, I understand the temptation to follow a significant other or a friend to college but I would strongly advise against it. College is something you do for YOU. Don’t let someone else lead you to a place that isn’t the best fit for your needs.
Do I really want to be at a party school?
The idea of going to a major party school sounds really fun. The reality? It’s not for everyone. If you feel like too many campus parties will distract you from your classes or just don’t think that’s your scene, consider opting for a more low-key college instead.
Will I be able to pursue my interests?
If you have a hobby, be sure you can keep doing it on campus. If they have a team or club devoted to what you love, you’ll definitely be happier.
Is there enough diversity?
One of the best things about college is the fact that you can meet people from other cultures, places, walks of life, etc. I truly believe it’s a great idea to make sure the school you choose will offer up a lot of diversity because you’ll learn amazing things from the people you meet.
Do I see myself here?
This is the million dollar question. It all comes down to the vibe you feel on campus. If you feel like you could see yourself there, nothing else matters.