5 Steps to Choosing the Right College

How to choose the right college:

Consider priorities, focus on goals and enjoy the journey.

Acceptance letters are rolling in and choosing a college is about more than the name on the diploma. Where a student goes to school touches numerous aspects of his or her life, from academic studies to social activities and beyond. Considering the importance of this decision, prospective students should think carefully about where they decide to enroll when looking over their options. Accepted to several of your top-choice colleges? That’s an enviable position to be in – though it might not feel like it.

Follow these 5 steps to help you make a college decision.

1. Develop your short list.

  • A lot of thought should go into developing a short list of schools you would like to attend. But what kind of factors should drive your thinking when crafting that list? Brennan Barnard and Rick Clark, authors of “The Truth About College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together,” urge students to think about location, enrollment size, majors and programs, the people on campus, opportunities outside of the classroom, cost and selectivity.

2. Rank your priorities.

  • Carefully consider your wants and needs when thinking about where you’ll spend the next four years or longer. One way to do this, write Barnard and Clark, is to create a list of those wants and needs.

3. Don’t procrastinate.

  • Experts suggest getting started on the application process by the start of your senior year in high school. And plan plenty of time for college visits, taking standardized tests, writing essays and asking for letters of recommendation.

4. Go back to schools.

  • While you should have gotten a feel for campus life during initial college tours, take another trip to each school and ask 10 to 15 detailed questions, says Bob Roth, author of several books on college success.

5. Focus on your endgame.

  • Ask yourself where you want to be in four years. If you can pinpoint a reasonable job and financial outlook, consider which college might best help you reach those goals.

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