As the end of the year approaches, juniors are beginning to start their college applications and seniors are finalizing which college they plan to attend. However, before you can make such a momentous decision, you have to decide what you want from a college. You must remember that wherever you choose will most likely be your home for the next 4 years. It is ideal that you choose a college that not only provides the academic rigor you seek, but also provides you with the opportunity to pursue your other passions and enjoy yourself.
The first step to finding the right school is to do extensive research. Some of the most important things to look for is how expensive the college tuition is and what majors they offer. Knowing exactly what the school has to offer is crucial in your decision to apply. For example, if you want to major in journalism but the colleges you are looking at do not offer a journalism major then it would be best if you took a look at other colleges offering the desired major.
Another factor to take into account is the size of the school. Depending on the size, you could have a completely different college experience. For example, going to UMD and going to a small college without sports would result in two different college experiences. At UMD you have basketball, lacrosse, and football games, while at UMBC sporting events are limited. If you are having a hard time deciding what size school you would like to attend, you should remember that you can always make a big school seem small (by limiting yourself to a small portion of it), but it is hard to make a small school seem big.
Lastly, you should decide whether you want your college to be located in the city or the suburbs. UMD has a standard college campus, accommodating for pretty much everything and only rarely forcing you to leave campus to get what you need. NYU is a different story. The college buildings are spaced sporadically through Brooklyn and are not contained in one small area. This could very likely be a problem for some. However, there are also some who just prefer the city more. If you are one of those people, you should highly consider checking out some city located schools.
After you have done all your preliminary research, the next step to finding the right school is going on college visits. These are extremely important and you should take advantage of these great opportunities to visit your potential future schools. During sophomore and junior year of high school are the optimal times to partake in these college tour visits. The information on the college would still be fresh in your mind as making decisions where to apply. On your college tour visit make sure to go during the school year – not summer. This way, you will be able to get a clear picture of what student and campus life is like on a daily basis.
There are many factors that you should consider when deciding where you would like to attend. The most important thing is to do is first establish what type of college you are looking for. Then, do your research and ask questions on college tours if you are uncertain about something, decide if you want a big school or a small school and decide whether or not you want to be in the city. Finally, attend campus visits to acquire valuable information about how students live on campus and the various opportunities that the college offers.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Erin Ramos of Richard Montgomery High School