How to Choose Which College to Attend

By Katelyn Yang, Clarion Staff

One of the biggest problems high school students face is choosing which college to attend. It is wise to consider other colleges you may not be interested in and take into consideration other aspects of college life in your final decision. Some important things to think about include: the distance from home, the location of the college, campus life and activity, major and minor options, and financial aid opportunities.

Whether or not to attend a college far away from home or close to home is ultimately up to you. You may want to have more freedom and to gain more experience away from home, but ask yourself if you are willing to travel a couple of hours to and from home during breaks and how often you will be doing so.

A college’s location is also important. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are immensely impacted, and you may have to deal with traffic and high expenses daily. If you prefer warm weather, you may want to look at colleges in the West or South, but if you prefer cold weather, you may want to look at colleges in the Eastern part of the U.S.

Another component that may affect your decision is the diversity of the college. If you want to go to a college with a population consisting of a certain ethnic group or many ethnic groups, look into colleges’ demographics. Also note the political side of a college if you lean extremely to the right or left. Do some research on the student bodies of the colleges you have in mind and weigh whether or not it will have an impact. Also make sure to research the student-to-staff ratios and student populations.

Colleges also offer many different majors and minors ranging from Holocaust Studies to Biology. Know which colleges offer the majors and minors you’re interested in before seriously considering any colleges, as even if one college offers a particular major or minor, another may not.

Another important area to research is financial aid. Colleges offer many different types of financial aid and scholarships; it might be one of the first things to consider. Some colleges might offer full tuition coverage and some might offer $2,000 scholarships.

Mr. Drotts, a counselor at Kennedy stated, “Sometimes there’s a disconnect between where students want to go and where they really have a chance of getting in.” He told students to think in three categories of applications: dream schools, possible schools, and schools you will get into for sure. He also stressed that students should look at private schools because student-to-staff ratios are smaller, which means students and teachers will have closer relationships and more opportunities to interact, and the sense of connection and identity with a private school can last a lifetime.

Other points of research are admissions criteria, your grades and GPA, campus and dorm designs and facilities, and safety statistics. It would also be extremely helpful to talk to your counselor because they will have all the information you need and will guide you through the whole process; it will also ease your mind to have someone to talk to during these stressful times. In the end, it’s up to you to do your research to narrow down your choices. Start with a list of criteria colleges should meet and work from there, and hopefully, you’ll only have a handful of colleges to choose from. Good luck and happy planning!

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