It’s decision time for four-year university bound students, and for many, it is a daunting task.
Here are some tips to help narrow down the decision.
1) Go with your gut
Get a feel for the campus. What is your heart telling you? If the university is prestigious, but it still doesn’t sit right, it might not be for you. When choosing the place to spend the next four years of your life, it is important that you feel good about your decision and confident with your place there. You’re there for an education, but will you enjoy your time? Will you meet the kinds of people you want to?
2) Consider the Opportunities
If things like research, internships, student government, and/or working interest you, consider these in your college search. Will you be able to formulate a relationship with your professors? Will they even know your name? Make sure find out the kind of opportunities you will have access to at your four year. Schools with smaller class sizes and a low student to staff ratio will present you with networking opportunities and the chance to find internships. Schools with a higher ratio mean that finding research opportunities and internships will be regarded as a high achievement. Make sure to find out the kind of alumni network and contacts your department of study has. If you plan to jump start your career, find out where your chances are best.
3) Academic Rigor
How competitive and rigorous will your classes be? Are you thinking of attending a college that requires Calculus as a general requirement for political science? Lean toward colleges that fit your academic strengths. If you don’t do as well in a high pressure environment, consider attending somewhere where your department will be flexible and accommodating for student needs.
Consider what time you’ll want to reserve for yourself. Will you want to play a sport? Start going to the gym? Join greek life? Social stimulus, aside from “party” culture, are an important, yet an often overlooked aspect of college decisions. Friends, athletics, and a social life greatly contribute to your mental health, and thus, your happiness. If you know the kind of experience you want, academic rigor will play into your college decision; a place where all of your free time goes to studying may or may not be for you. An academically competitive or rigorous school may be prestigious, but be sure to consider whether that is an optimal environment for you. Many people flourish in such environments. However, some students need more flexibility and open endedness in their curriculum.
Wherever you go, remember that your college education is what you make of it. Consider how you will use the skills you gain, how you’ll fit into the college environment, and what kind of rigor is right for you.