Deciding what college you want to go to is likely the biggest decision you’ll make in your first 18+ years of life. No pressure, right? With so many great universities out there, narrowing down your options and evaluating the key elements you’re looking for in your dream school can be overwhelming to say the least. Keep reading to see my tips for choosing the right school for you, as well as my personal college selection experience.
Do an overnight visit.
Though I didn’t do an overnight visit at the college I selected, I highly recommend doing so. This will give you a a much better idea of the actual student environment at the school on a typical week day, what it’s like walking around from class to class, what the food tastes like, the dorm environment, etc.
Make pros and cons lists.
Write down the colleges you’re considering attending and make a pros and cons list for each. It’s totally okay to be critical and jot down things like “non-air conditioned dorms” and “gross food,” because simple things like that may add up. Consider all elements of each school and analyze your results — which one rises above the rest?
Consider the key elements: Major, distance, size
Does this school have the major you’re planning to pursue? How far away is this school from home and are you comfortable with that distance? What class size would you learn best in? Narrowing down whether you want to attend a large or small university and how far away you’d like to be from home are initial factors to consider.
Never choose a college simply because your friends (or significant other) are going there.
Don’t choose to go to a school just because a friend of yours is going there or you know students there already. You’re going to be surrounded by so many new people that you’ll quickly come to realize that having a friend as a “security blanket” is unnecessary. You won’t loose your high school friends simply due to not hanging out all the time. My high school friends and I didn’t have any issues staying in touch and remaining friends by going to different schools, and we didn’t feel the need to communicate 24/7 to maintain that friendship either. It’s so fun to come together (likely over Labor Day weekend or Fall Break for the first time) with your friends and talk about new people you’ve met and what your experiences have been like.
It’s okay to transfer and it’s okay (and common) to change your major.
There is no shame in transferring schools. Sometimes you don’t know what school/major will work for you until you immerse yourself in it. I went to college with ZERO idea of what kind of career I wanted to pursue, and that’s so okay. You’re not alone and I promise you’ll figure it out along the way! I can’t stress enough that changing majors is so incredibly common. I do suggest taking a couple classes from different professors that count toward the major you’re pursuing before deciding to nix it and try something else.
Trust your gut.
Whether you realize it or not, deep down you know where you want to go. What school do you picture yourself at when you think about college? Which school can you not seem to eliminate from your list? Is this somewhere you’ll truly thrive?
I had NO idea what I wanted to study or where I wanted to go to school. Sometimes I’m a bit too laid back, and I was very unconcerned about the whole thing. I always knew I wanted to go to college, but where and what I wanted to study was completely unknown.
I applied to a bunch of schools, toured several of them and did one overnight visit. I eventually decided on Franklin College after my mom nudged me saying “well that is the one you seem to like the most,” and she was right. It was a school that I could truly actually picture myself at. It was fairly small, but much larger in comparison to the 65 students in my high school graduating class. Franklin offered a variety of majors, so I was comfortable knowing that I had options to choose from.
Choosing to go to Franklin College was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because I absolutely loved the school (and still do), I met some of the greatest friends, I met my soon-to-be husband Justin, and I truly was so incredibly happy there. My education and social experience was so great and really helped to jump-start my career, even before I graduated. I know choosing a college seems like such a life altering decision, but trust your gut and go where it feels right.
If you’re trying to select a college right now, what’s holding you back? What factors have made your decision tough? To my fellow graduates, are you happy with the school you chose? Reach out to me anytime if you ever need advice and let me know of any other posts like this that you’d want to see from me in the future. Check out my previous college-related posts here & have a great weekend!