What to Look for When Deciding Where to Apply to College

Part of the reason that the college search can seem so daunting to high school students is that there are many factors to consider. Isolating things that really matter can be challenging, but with a little research, you’ll be able to make good choices about your college applications.

One basic decision you will need to make is how far from home you would like to be during college. Some students prefer to stay close by, while others will want to be within a few hours drive from their families. Other students think nothing of applying to schools across the country or around the world. This is a personal decision, but one that will greatly impact your college decisions.

The type of location is another important factor. Some students will want a college located in the heart of a city, while others won’t mind being in a rural setting. Along the same lines, consider if you want to be part of a large campus or a university with graduate students on campus too. Some students prefer a large college environment while others want a smaller school where there is often more interaction between students and professors.

Rankings are often an important tool for high school students. Look at the average SAT scores and percentage of applicants that are accepted. A high school guidance counselor can also help you to pinpoint schools that are a good fit for you academically. When you look at rankings, you may also want to look at the retention rate or how many students continue on at the college after the first year.

When you visit a college campus, talk to as many students and professors as possible. Students will be great for honest advice and a look at the type of people you would be living and learning with on campus. Ask them about their classes, their favorite part of campus, and why they chose the school. Ask professors to describe the average student on campus and to tell you what you can expect from their department.

Another factor has to be finances. Many public schools will offer lower tuition to in-state students and many are very affordable. Most private colleges are more expensive, but many offer excellent financial aid packages. If cost is a factor, get all of the information you can about financial aid packages and what the average student ends up actually paying.

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