Applying to College: Choosing the “Right” School
Other than your chance of acceptance, choosing the right school for you means considering all of its aspects.
First, would you enjoy living in the city where the college is located? If you’re going to spend four years in a place, make sure it suits you before you decide to apply. Even if you have never visited that particular location, YouTube can be handy for getting the feel of a city.
Second, what kind of campus are you looking for? Rural, suburban or urban? Small, medium or large? Modern (such as the University of Miami) or neo-gothic (such as Yale University)? Some like a tight-knit class on a small campus in the country; others enjoy the excitement and hustle and bustle of a large campus with tons of students. Research the positive and negatives for both — you never know, you may change your mind later.
Third, does the university have a focus on a subject area that you want to major in? Does the school specialize in the specific field you want to study? Does a school that requires you to choose your major when you apply appeal to you, or are you not ready to make that decision yet?
Fourth, is the university affordable? Does the school offer adequate financial aid or other financing methods?
Fifth, what clubs and organizations are available? From student groups to intramural sports, would you be able to find your place within the school? Do you want to be a part of Greek life (fraternities and sororities), or would you prefer a school that does not have it at all?
Sixth, are you looking for a school with strong representation from a group you belong to, such as a religious affiliation, or would you prefer a very diverse campus?
Seventh, what is the living situation for a student at that school? From food in the cafeteria to the interior of the libraries, is it something you would enjoy or be able to become accustomed to? It’s very important, especially during the pandemic, to know if there is available housing to live on campus or if students live off campus. Are dorms separated by major or class? Try to read about the positive and negative experiences of people who have attended the school. The extra research will pay off in the end.
Lastly, are you looking to stay close to home and your family, or are you seeking an out-of-state or out-of-country education? Consider your distance preference.