6 Tips for College Bound Students to Choose the Right School
Choosing the right school is vital for all college bound students. You don’t have to get into the Ivy Leagues for a great education these days, but you do need to research which school is going to be in your league. Ideally, you’ll feel like you fit both academically and socially at your school. You’re going to spend four years there, so you might as well enjoy it while you get a great education! Here are six tips to help college bound students choose the right school:
1. Consider Where Each School is Located
You may want to be close to home, or you may not. But you need to factor the location of your school into your choice, for sure. The cheapest option is probably to go to a public school in the state you live in, so you can get in-state tuition. This can be a factor. It’s also important to think about travel costs and how often you’ll come home. Flying across the country isn’t cheap, but if you’ll only be coming home twice a year, it may be worth your while to check out amazing schools that are far away. If you need or want to come home more often, this probably isn’t the best option.
2. Don’t Fall Prey to Sticker Shock
It’s disheartening for college bound students to look at the tuition price for your average state public university these days! College isn’t cheap, but sometimes you don’t know how much you’ll actually save until you’ve applied and got accepted to a school. If a school has a fantastic program or just feels like it might be the right fit for you, go ahead and apply. Usually you’ll get scholarship, grant, and tuition waiver offers along with any acceptance letters. Use these to make your final decision about the school you’ll choose.
3. Don’t Pay Attention to New Buildings, etc.
Really, you can get an excellent education in the oldest building imaginable. Many colleges will advertise their brand new buildings for this or that major or department, but these buildings really don’t matter that much. Of course, it’s fine to go to a school that has new buildings, but don’t go to one because of this. Instead, college bound students should look at the actual quality of the education they’ll get, which could happen at a school with really old buildings and really highly-paid faculty.
4. In General, Ignore “Research Dollars”
Graduate students need to worry about how much money a university gets for research, but undergraduates mainly don’t. Most research money is spent to update labs, particularly in the physical and applied sciences, but you probably won’t get to use that equipment until you’re in your junior or senior year, at the very least. Plus, more graduate money may mean more classes that are taught by graduate students who come to work with the research professors, who are there for research rather than teaching. The research professors teach the graduate students, who teach the undergraduate students, who end up getting a less quality education, many times, because they’re being taught by novices!
5. Forget About the Sports Teams
Unless you’re actually going to be a part of the athletic program, don’t let it sway your decision. Don’t worry, college bound students don’t have to root for the home team if they’re die-hard fans of a team from another school. They might just have to hide the paraphernalia in their closets instead of displaying it in the dorm room. College bound students need to focus on the education they’ll receive. Even potential college athletes should be concerned about their education as well as the athletic program.
6. Don’t Let a School Scare You
It’s wise for college bound students to check out admissions statistics for schools. If you want to get into the Ivy Leagues, for instance, you probably need a really high GPA and a great SAT score. But even average students shouldn’t be afraid to apply to schools that seem out of their reach. This is particularly true if you’ve done really well in the areas where you actually want to study. If your GPA is low because you’re terrible in math, but you want to study English in which you’ve earned stellar scores, you can explain that in your personal essay. This can give you a shot at studying in some of the best English programs, even if your overall GPA seems lower than necessary for the school in question.
College bound students have so many choices in front of them. Which major will they choose? Which school will they go to? Resources like the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator can help narrow down school choices by using tips like these.