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How to Find the Right College

Picking a college can be a daunting task. What can seem like an endless amount of college options can be narrowed down to a select few through some careful screening and requirements. Here are some factors that can help you find the right college:

  • Private vs. public: In general, private colleges are more expensive than public colleges. If budget is a primary concern, going to an “in-state” public school could save a lot on tuition.

  • Major / Program of Study: Finding a college that offers a major you are interested in is paramount. If you are unsure of what degree you want, attending a college that offers a wide variety of majors can help you select the right career path. Bigger colleges tend to have more options and may allow you to explore intro-level courses in a variety of study areas during your first and second years.

  • Location: Choosing between in-state vs out-of-state can be a deciding factor for many students. Some students want to “get away” while others want to remain close to their home.

  • Class size: Many universities, especially state universities, tend to have bigger class sizes. This could result in a potential decrease in personal contact with your professors. If you believe you want a smaller class size, going to a small, private institution may be the right choice for you.

  • Acceptance requirements: Based on stats such as your GPA, SAT/ACT score, and extracurricular activities, you can find which colleges you have the best chance of getting accepted to. A standard way of applying to college is by submitting 80% of your applications to target colleges that you’d like to attend and fit the mean prospective student requirements. 20% of your applications can go to “reach schools,” which typically have more selective admissions criteria.

  • Miscellaneous Factors: Other (random) factors may also be important, such as school sports, proximity to the beach or skiing, and, of course, where their friends are going. We can’t discount that these factors may have emotional significance, but be careful with how much weight you put behind them.

Through planning and research, finding the right college can happen. Ask your counselors, teachers, friends, and mentors about what they think of your college choices and how they can help you select the right one.

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