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5 Factors to Weigh in Deciding Your College

Deciding your college can still be a daunting task, even when you’ve been accepted to your favorite schools,. After all, you are not simply choosing where to live for the next 4 years, you are choosing your alma mater, your mentors, your future friends and colleagues.  Clearly, this is not to be taken lightly.  Here are a few things to consider seriously as you continue deciding your college.

More Than Your Major

Aside from your chosen major, how is this college good for you? Chances are 1 in 3 that you’ll change your major, and that isn’t necessarily bad.  If this college is on your list primarily because of the major, would it be as attractive if your second choice major ultimately took precedence?

Faculty Connections

Did you “connect” with the faculty? When you visited, surely you met with a faculty member, and you should have noted if that connection was great or just so-so.  Even if you met with a professor in a different department, that faculty member is a strong representation of the style of teaching professors, and I can assure you that the admissions office showed you their best.  If you didn’t find this connection with any faculty or staff (other than your admissions rep), then you need to explore further.  This is a critical factor in your success at the school.  Why?  Because in college, the faculty are your mentors who will likely lead you to great internships, jobs, and professional school

A Learning Environment

Can you appreciate the environment for 4 years? I suspect that the environment of the college was a strong determinant in your preference.  Yet, your appreciation of that may change over the first few months. Palm trees and constant sun won’t hold the same attraction to you when you have 3 papers and 4 exams to prepare.

If the excitement of the city appealed to you during your September visit, will it still appeal on cold and windy February days?  The quaintness of a small college town may turn a bit narrow after a few months, or it could be just the quiet atmosphere most conducive to study.

Your attractions are bound to change, so will your focus on the educational opportunities stay strong?  This does not mean that you have to change schools when you tire of the environment!  Your education will be (or should be) dynamic!  You’ll study abroad, you’ll travel to Utah with the Ski and Snowboard Club over spring break, you’ll intern with a company back home or in Australia, you’ll discover hidden adventures even within the limited acreage of the campus labs and guest speakers.

Are these your people?

Before deciding your college, think  about the people you’ve met.  On your most recent visit to the college, did you find the current and incoming students to be people you could relate to in positive ways?  Certainly, you don’t want everyone to be the same; you want to meet new and different kinds of friends, you want to be challenged in your thinking and your perspective.  However, you want to have a base of fellow students that you feel comfortable with, who hold some similar basic values, people with whom you can empathize (and who will do the same for you).

What is the Real Cost

Is the cost really the same as the money you’ll pay? Have you looked carefully at the final cost of attendance for you at each of your colleges.  Not all colleges present their awards or their costs in the same way.  And, how much will the cost increase over 4 years?  Research into the colleges’ websites, and possibly a visit to the Financial Aid office, is a must in deciding your college.

Deciding Your College

Finally, does the college feel right?  Not all of this decision can be made on emotion, but it isn’t all that different from dating, is it?  After you’ve done all the research on you and the college, then one college should rise to the top for you as being the “right” one. (If it doesn’t, then more research is in order.) The staff at My College Planning Team is available to help you assess these details. We’re experts in finding “college fit”, and we can help you with those final decisions.

Stephanie Kennedy

Stephanie Kennedy is president of Kennedy Educational Services and co-founder of My College Planning Team. Stephanie holds a Masters in Counseling and College Student Development. A former admissions counselor, she has read hundreds of college applications and assisted thousands of students in their college adjustment and educational path. With her hands-on perspective, she guides students and families in a successful college search that goes far beyond the acceptance letter.

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