Factors to Consider in your College Decision Process

Baylor Williamson, Staff Writer

Senior year is a fun and exciting time, you are only a year away from freedom and you feel like you could do anything. But often times the joy and excitement of senior year can be overshadowed by the fear of the future. Choosing the college you will attend is most likely the first major decision you will make, and it’s an important one. It’s the launching point for your entire life; It helps determine your career, the people you will share your life with, and the kind of adult you will become. This all can be a lot of pressure for the average seventeen year old, especially if you have no idea where you want to go.  If you happen to be one of these people, do not fear, many of us feel this way. While there are many factors to take into consideration and questions you need to ask yourself, these are just a few to help you start narrowing down your search.

1.)  Location: In real-estate there is a phrase “location is key”, well this also applies to college.  What kind of atmosphere are you looking for? Do you like the country and wide-open spaces? Or do you like the hustle and excitement that comes with city life? Think about activities you enjoy, are those available to you in the area around the college? For example if you have a passion for surfing, ole miss might not be the place for you considering its at least 6 hours from the closest beach. Finally how far is it from home? Do you want to be able to come home as you please? This is something that you probably need to discuss with your parents. While you may be ready to spread your wings and fly far away, your parents might be slightly more hesitant in letting you go.

2.)  Money: while money isn’t the only factor it is one of the most important. Tuition is very expensive nowadays; you should sit down with your parents to talk about what colleges you can afford and how much they have saved. If the college you wish to attend is slightly outside of your price range don’t freak out, there are things you can do to make it work. There are thousands of scholarships out there for a variety of different things. They may be only for a few hundred dollars but several of these  can significantly reduce your tuition. Sights like Scholly.com can help you find many scholarships you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Other things such as financial aid and a work study can also be helpful in easing the burden of paying for a higher education. Don’t let money stand in the way of your dream school, but it should definitely be taken in consideration.

3.)  Size: Are you looking to go to a large state University or a small private school? Which atmosphere do you learn best in, that of a huge lecture hall or in smaller more intimate classrooms? One way is not better than the other; it all just depends on your personal learning style. Student bodies can range anywhere from 50,000 to a couple hundred. Do you want to attend a smaller school with a high school musical “were all in this together” type feel, or a large school with more freedom to pave your own way? Tour a college of each size, walk around campus, talk to current students, and try to get a feel for what size you feel more comfortable in.

4.)  Majors: if you know what you want to major in, be sure that the college you are considering offers it. Research the colleges reputation in that field, is it known to be a strong department? Talk to the students there, how do they feel about their professors and the major as a whole? If you are have no idea what you want to do yet, you should still check out departments you could see yourself being interested in. Larger colleges tend to offer a wider variety of majors to choose from, so you have more freedom to explore what is you want to do.