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What to Consider when Choosing a College

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Posted on December 2, 2014 by Delaware Valley College.

Choosing what college to attend is a big decision and it’s never too early to start your research. Whether there’s a school you’ve been dreaming of attending for your whole life or you haven’t really given college much thought, there are many factors to consider when selecting the right one for you. 

Majors
Some students know exactly what they want to major in when looking at colleges. If you already have your major figured out, make sure you’re looking into colleges that offer that program, especially since some colleges have stand-out programs they’re known for. For example, if you’re interested in a degree in physical therapy, you should consider the top colleges for physical therapy. Keep in mind, though, that these programs will likely be more rigorous and competitive than others. 

Cost and Availability of Financial Aid
Finances will be a big factor—and sometimes the only factor—for college applicants. Financial aid and scholarship eligibility varies among schools and sometimes make the difference between going and not going or completing studies vs. dropping out. It’s important to fully understand your finances and the cost of college before making your final decision on a school. You may also want to discuss this matter with a professional.

Location, Location, Location
For some students, it’s important to be close to home so they can see their families and don’t have to travel too far for breaks and other events. Other students look for a complete change of scenery and would like to go far from home to experience new areas. 

Another consideration is transportation. If you don’t have your own vehicle, will you have access to public transportation? Or if you do have a vehicle, are you comfortable putting additional miles on it if you’re traveling a long distance between home and school? The school’s location could also affect other factors such as cost, school breaks, and the topics of study.

Size
Small and large colleges differ in many ways. For example, at a larger college, you may not have the opportunity to speak with your professors because of how many people are in your class. But with a smaller college, the class sizes also tend to be small and many students have the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with their professors. However, at a smaller college, there may not be as many class offerings or majors as they are at a larger institution.

When considering colleges, LinkedIn may be a helpful resource. The education section has an excellent search engine that can search by college or university name. It offers college rankings and makes suggestions for your field of study and colleges based on the information in your LinkedIn profile. You can also connect with other applying students and alumni.

Although it’s necessary to research the various colleges you’re considering, it’s also crucial to visit each campus in person. Most colleges offer both day and overnight visits so you can really get a feel for the environment. 

It’s important to consider several colleges that you think would be a great fit for you and thoroughly research them. Even if you’re set on attending a specific college, research a few others because you may find one you’re even more interested in. Most importantly, trust your instincts when it comes to making your final decision.