So you are just starting your junior year of high school. If that describes you, it doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out what the one thing on your mind is - college. You are going to spend the better part of the next year and a half trying to figure out where you are going to spend four years attending college after you graduate high school and asking yourself "how do i pick a college?" This can definitely be an overwhelming decision making process, but it doesn't have to be. To make the journey easier, here are a few steps to help you figure out how to pick a college.
- Weigh Your Options
- Size - are you looking for a small, medium or large school? What kind of classroom environment do you learn best in and what type of lecture room will be best suited for those needs?
- Academics - Will you be applying to Harvard and Penn, Wisconsin and Maryland, Central Florida and William & Mary, or a mix of all of these. Selecting the academic environment that fits you best is certainly towards the top of the list of things to consider.
- Type of School - State school, liberal arts college, private institution, specialty school or something else. What type of college are you hopeful to attend?
- Location - Do you prefer to stay close to home or travel to the other side of the country? Or, are you hoping to attend a university in a different country altogether? This is a very important decision as well.
- Community - Do these universities meet your demographic or diversity needs. What type of students do you want to spend four years learning with?
- Narrow Your List - Once you have your list of options, narrowing it to a handful of universities that best meet your needs will help you decide which schools to visit. To do this, try making a pro and con list to easily measure these schools against one another. Use this list to decide which colleges are your most realistic options and you will have a great list to start visiting.
- Visit The Schools - It will be impossible to choose the school that is best for you without traveling there, spending some quality time on campus, meeting other students, asking questions and making sure the college is right for you. We highly recommend taking a summer program there during the summer before your senior year. After visiting all of the colleges, you will be able to rank your schools based on which ones you feel most comfortable with.
- Apply - You may put in an application to every school you visited, but you may not. This part is admin heavy, but gives you the chance to speak from the experience of having seen the school about how you fit into it's incredible community.
- Go With Your Gut - Making the final decision can be a grueling one, but at this point, you should have a gut feeling of which college will be the best for you. Choose that one!
Picking a college that's right for you isn't easy, but hopefully this step-by step guide makes it a bit easier to travel on this journey. The only piece of advice that I left out is... ENJOY THE RIDE!