Ready to take the most important decision of your life but not sure how to choose a good college?
Choosing a college that can help you achieve both your personal and professional goals is critical to your future. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which factors are most important for your lifestyle and what you hope to get out of higher education. Once you’ve identified these factors, you can create a shortlist of schools and begin researching them.
This guide explains how to compare colleges, what to look for in a college, and how to estimate your chances of getting into your dream school.
It’s not always easy deciding on a college to apply to or attend. By following the steps below, you can choose the right college and feel good about your decision.
STEP 1: Make a college List
Early in the process, sit down with your parents/guardians or someone you trust, such as your school guidance counselor or a teacher to develop a list of colleges that interest you.
You will want to consider a variety of experiences and outcomes before making a final decision. Ideally, this list should include 8-10 colleges, all of which should offer streams/subjects that align with your interests and future goals.
STEP 2: Visit college campuses
Knowing what you want and need from the college experience can help shorten your initial list of schools. The internet doesn’t provide you the same insight on schools as visiting them physically will. By exploring college premises, you and your family can get a better feel for the institution’s culture, ask questions, eat in the cafeteria, and talk to existing students and faculty members.
STEP 3: Facilities
What are the classrooms like? Do they have classes in both morning and day shifts? Are there enough play areas? Are there additional costs associated with them? Is the technology up to date in the computer labs? What do facilities like washrooms, dining halls and the library look like? Does the school have students’ council and practice assemblies and mass participation events like parent’s day, sports day, fresher’s orientation and graduation days? Above all, make sure the facilities meet your standards and provides a comfortable learning environment.
STEP 4: Compare financial packages and scholarships
After your physical visits, compare the fees and scholarship offers with the facilities available in each school.
Remember – Cheap is not always good!
You must cross-check for hidden fees and extra charges you will be asked to pay throughout the year. Most of the times, cheap means lacking experienced teachers, better sanitary and hygiene facilities, well equipped labs, spacious classrooms or ECA/CCA activities. So, be very cautious while choosing schools on financial grounds.
Also, have a discussion with the management regarding the various scholarships school offers for meritorious students. Sometimes the tuition fees seem very high but with right amount of persuasion, you can negotiate a favorable deal for yourself.
STEP 5: Geographic location of the college
Location is one of the most significant factors in choosing a college for many students. Many schools provide transportation services which is safer and time saving as well. If you want to cut costs on travel, choose a college near to your home. Opting for a reputed college very far from your location can cost you both time and money. But if the college has everything that you wish for, distance shouldn’t be a worry.
STEP 6: Academic Quality
If you already have a clear sense of your academic path, it’s important to make sure that any school you consider offers subjects that fits in that pathway. For instance, students who know they want to study business should not seriously consider schools that do not offer this course.
Despite what its marketing team may want you to believe, no school can offer the best programs in different fields of study. Before choosing a college, you can get a sense of its overall academic quality and reputation by asking the people in the locality or the past students.
You might also try to check the career and research achievements of the students in your target school by seeing whether they’ve won any awards or received recognition for any achievements.
STEP 7: Campus Environment
Because personal and professional growth also occurs outside the classroom, it’s important to consider the campus environment when choosing a college. Depending on your interests, you may want to look into schools with a strong commitment to extra and co-curricular activities and holistic growth of the students.
If you value the spirit of sports, you might consider schools with renowned teams so you can attend games and other social events. Similarly, colleges with active participation in social and cultural events will allow you to make friends through recreational and competitive activities.
Finally, it is important that you take the college search process seriously. Do what’s best for you and commit to excelling at this opportunity you’ve been given. If you want to perform at your best in college, you’ve got to ensure that you’re choosing a college that can give you best during your higher education experience.