Choosing a university or college is a big decision. College will significantly shape the next four years of your life and continue to impact your life as you move into the workplace. There are several steps you can take and resources you can use to choose the best college or university for you.
Determine What is Right for You
As you narrow down colleges, remember that what is popular may not be the best place for you. Determine what your goals are and the best learning environment and choose an institution that fits your needs. Instead of looking at overall rankings for colleges, look at rankings for individual criteria that areimportant to you. Some institutions may offer an excellent program in your area of interest, but may not rank as high overall. QS Top Universities offers ranking by subject. Consider whether you want to attend a large university with a wide variety of opportunities, or a smaller university where you can have a more intimate connection with professors and other students.
Determine what you can afford
College is expensive. While loans can help, the more debt you can avoid, the better off you will be when you graduate. Decide what you can afford before you choose a college. Take into account cost of living and cost of travel, if you plan to come home for breaks. These smaller details may have a big impact on which institution you choose.
Beyond the program you intend to study, colleges and universities offer a variety of opportunities. The availability of study abroad programs, competitive sports, the greek system, campus life, the broader community and even weather are all criteria you may want to keep in mind as you search for a university. Niche offers college rankings in a large range of categories from best off-campus housing to best food.
The best way to choose a college is to visit it. Take the campus tour, talk to students and even professors in your area of study. Getting a feel for campus life and the opportunities each college can offer will help you make an informed decision. Remember the decision that is right for a friend or family member may not be the right choice for you. Ultimately, you need to choose a university based on criteria that is important to you.
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