Choosing a college involves months of research, planning, prep, and even visits. There is a lot that will go into making the decisions around where you will pursue your four year education. Before you get down to the nitty gritty of applying to each school, think about these three things.
Can I Afford It?
If you haven’t talked about finances with your family yet, now is the time. You need to know how you will pay for college. Will you take out a loan? Do you have money saved? Are you counting on scholarships and grants? Set a budget and then look at both how much the school costs, as well as how much they typically offer in aid and scholarships. Some schools can be very expensive, but offer a lot of financial support, while others are less costly but more will come directly from your pocket. You need to get the full financial picture before you apply. Don’t forget to consider cost of living and cost of travel.
Can I Study My Interest?
You don’t have to have a major selected when you go to college. However, a general idea of your interests should help you determine whether or not a school would have a program or department you are interested in. If you are totally unsure about what direction you are headed, you may want to choose a large school with plenty of options to explore.
Can I Get In?
Some schools are very competitive. They have a minimum GPA or SAT score in order to gain admittance. If you do not meet the requirements, you will not get in. Other schools have not set specific standards, but post averages for the student accepted. If you are below the average, but have and excellent application with essays, references, and extra curriculars, you may still get in. If you don’t have great supplemental items in your application, you may want to consider other schools. Choosing one or two schools beyond your scores and grades to apply to is great idea, but you should add in a few sure bets as well.
Think through all of the options and weigh the best schools before you apply. There is a lot you need to know about yourself before you will know what school is the best option for you.