Finding the Perfect College: Factors to Consider

Choosing where to attend college is one of the toughest decisions a young person in contemporary society can make. It’s not uncommon for a young person to ask,”how do i find my perfect college?”

Truth is, the university or campus you belong in will, in one way or another, impact your future career. College-bound students’ collective desire to choose the best academic training is evident; unfortunately, our options are limited by several factors.

Like people, higher education institutions are not created equal. Schools vary in terms of their programs, fees, location, facilities, connections, and extra-curricular activities. Here are a few considerations that are pivotal in deciding which university to attend.

PROGRAMS

Choosing the program should be the first thing to consider. It’s the specific answer to the most basic question, “What do want to be when you grow up?”. You have to be sure you are enrolled in the right department that will equip you with the necessary skills for your career path in mind.

Simple as it may sound, selecting the most suitable program demands complex and crucial discernment. The process may be likened to college-seeker playing the role of a campus investigator or a supervisor who inspects and gauges the credibility of the faculty line-up, the efficiency of their teaching methods and facilities, and the level of competence of their graduates or alumni. You might also want to check the university’s passing rates in national professional exams and the number of research papers published by its students and professors. Times Higher Education (THE) provides a good list of outstanding schools.

Need Help With Programs And Degrees?

People seek to earn college education not only to gain practicable skills and knowledge, but more importantly as a testament to your expertise in your field of choice. Everyone aims for lucrative employment, and the college degree you earn can get your foot in the door.

If you’re thinking about attending college or taking up a different course of study, knowing some basic information about degrees and programs is a start.

You also need to make up your mind about your preferences. For instance, if distance learning, i.e. online education, is the program that you are after, do a thorough search using lists of virtual online bachelor degree programs to make your choice. Distance learning provides a wealth of benefits for students.

Student athletes, for one, are offered better school schedule as they pursue their athletic dreams AND earn a degree at the same time. Freelancers who want to pad their resumes or adult learners who do not have the time for conventional classroom learning will find online colleges highly preferable.

Do you prefer a Christian education and learn in the comfort of your own home? Look for a list of quality online christian colleges and universities, compare them, make an assessment, and  decide. Just a friendly heads up: most of the degrees offered in Christian higher education institutions are in the liberal arts and business fields. Some of them offer health care and education degrees.

Are you already itching to go get a job with big benefits as soon as possible? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Check out the valuable information you can get from lists of quick college degrees. With the rising costs of education as well as the increasing rates for student loans, having a quick 2-year course that can give you the employment in lucrative careers without having to wait too long.

Switching from one college discipline to another may lead to lost units if the programs aren’t related to each other, such as transferring from a liberal arts degree to a STEM course. Changing programs to another related field may not cost you your units entirely but there will still be a few major subjects that you may need to take. And it goes without saying that a new program means a new set of textbooks and other materials to spend for, so you better ready your pocket!

Here’s a tip: while changing programs in college is not exactly unheard of, transferring from one course to another is generally frowned upon by employers. Naturally, they would prefer someone who is decisive and your episodes of course changing makes your determination suspect.

COST

Once you have decided on a college program, pull out your calculator as you are about to do some complex arithmetic. Ask yourself if you are willing enough pursue college; remember that it’s a lot of work and it’s not cheap. The rising cost of college education is enough to make students from low-income families say goodbye to their college dream. Rule of the thumb dictates that the most renowned universities entail hefty tuition payments and expensive project requirements. You need to talk it out with your parents. Ask them to be honest about whether or not they can afford to send you to college.

A good option is scholarship grants. If you are not gifted with a sharp mind, consider study loans but make think hard before taking this route. It’s no secret that study loans keep students in knee-high education debt. Community colleges are a good choice, too, as they are known to promote good school-life balance.

Bear in mind that college students often have to leave their family and live on university housing or college dorms, or rent an apartment. College cost does not point to academic expenses alone.

Practicality Matters

The cost of college has killed many dreams. Student loans averaging $39,400 for 2017 college graduates. A degree costs at rates higher than inflation! National inflation is rising by 2.2% year on year and college degree rise by 4.4%.

Of course, there are a lot of options available for the resourceful, determined college-bound student. Applying for scholarships is a welcome idea for those who are academically inclined. Also, there are other not-for-profit organizations that aim to assist students, particularly the deserving ones in the minority. Opportunities are given to deserving students in specific places, as in the case of Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan.

If you’re persistent, you’ll find more options. You can serve in the military or apply as a working student at your college or university of choice. But because not all colleges and universities operate that way, you need to do your research.

The government has made college education accessible to the masses. States like New York and California have made state and city colleges open for everyone. Other states are following in the footsteps of these pioneers too; Oregon, Tennessee, and Arkansas also offer a college diploma without burdening students financially, as long as they qualify. For instance, New York requires your family to be a resident in New York, while California only requires residence in the state for at least a year.

Going to college will be worth it in the end. College graduates earn around 56% more than high school graduates in 2015, as per the Economic Policy Institute. In 2016, around 36% of the workforce had earned their college degree and 34% of them had high school education.

Do not let the staggering cost of college scare you away. There are options for making ends meet while attending in the United States—if you know where to look! This is why international students flock to the country, as shown in this video:

LOCATION

Location is important in order to properly account for all your living expenses. Do you live near or far from the university? Consider transportation cost. If the campus is within public transport from home, see how your daily fare or gas add up in a month. If your campus is within walking distance, lucky you. Walking to class is a healthy part of college life.

Studying away from home promises a life adventure like no other. Commentaries from online magazines – Buzz Feed, The Odyssey, Thought Catalog – to name a few, dub college as “the best years in life”. The cited references mention the early stages of adulthood – freedom, fun, and independence with trivial regard for consequences. Studying in another city or another state presents the exciting challenge that comes with blending in a new environment. You will meet amazing people with similar interests and passions in life. The friends you make will help you overcome culture shock and break social barriers.

You might opt to study abroad too. Involving in student exchange programs fosters a better understanding of cultural differences among international communities. The first few months may be tough, but if you linger for at least a year and leave for vacation, you would want to go back. You couldn’t help but miss the place and its people.

Interesting Places, Interesting Reads

Want to attend college and satisfy the genius in you? Interestingly, certain colleges and universities are known for educating young wonders.

If you love the law and believe you have a knack for impressing judges and juries but are just too young, you may want to enroll to the Harvard Law School or the New York University. A 19-year old Harvard graduate and co-founded a law firm and a judge graduated from NYU at the same age are among the youngest lawyers that earned their law degrees in 1924.

If you want to pursue the medical career path, Mount Sinai School is a great choice. It is know not only for its outstanding curricula but also for producing the world’s youngest doctor at 17 years of age!

Planning to network with the population’s top 1%? Ivy League schools may come to mind first, but you will be surprised where the rich and famous studied. Oprah Winfrey earned her scholarship for a communication course at the Tennessee State University. The highly esteemed Hollywood director Steven Spielberg studied at the California State University. One of the wealthiest men alive, Warren Buffet, earned his degree in Administration from the University of Nebraska.

Knowing people from your college and keeping in touch with them can propel your career in many ways. Who knows, you could be roommates with the founder of the next Facebook!

COMMUNITY

Speaking of people, the campus vibe matters in choosing your perfect college. Chad Orzel from Forbes talks about four important points: Relax, Environment, Classmates, and Academic Environment, the last three of which highlighting the significance of community. Look beyond the course prospectus. Engaging in clubs, sports, protest, prayer circles and other social activities will help you discover more about yourself–untapped talents, hidden potentials, and all. It goes without saying that it does matter to choose your friends wisely. In college, you will meet comrades in life whom you can exchange beer or coffee with. When making friends, never forget these three words: bad company corrupts.

Having a healthy relationship with the faculty is also important. According to a published article from International Journal of Studies in Nursing about of the impact of professors to their students, strong relationships inside and outside the classroom significantly improve academic performance and career motivation. A good mentor or influence leads to positive behavior. Your professor or instructor could be your parent within the campus.  Be careful about being overfamiliar though.

Do you like to be part of a tight-knit community of artists and musicians? How about a rich alumni culture, as well as a reputation for fashionable taste? Then you might want to enroll at the University of Georgia, where people drink, eat and breathe the arts.

Interested in a University with a large population for sports enthusiasts? Then the Santa Fe College in Florida may be more right up your alley. With the headquarters of the Sports Drink Titan Gatorade located in the state, you can be assured that the 8th largest campus in the United States will keep you energized to study and play both at the same time!

How about a strong desire to digest not only knowledge, but also, literally, great food? The Kansas State University is a great place for college student who has a fascination for unorthodox food cultures and loves wandering in streets filled with exotic restaurants!

CAN’T DECIDE ON YOUR PERFECT COLLEGE YET?

Make a list of potential schools offering your desired college program. If possible, take the entrance examinations in all your prospects. You can narrow down your choices by looking at the list of colleges whose exams you passed. Compare them based on their pros and cons.

Once you have made that decision, don’t expect favorable results. You can possibly be rejected by your college of choice. It does sound depressing but hey, you still have more choices left. College is not a race; it’s a journey.

The sad reality is this: quite a substantial fraction of the millennial generation has been forced to take college degrees they don’t actually need. According to the US poll broadcasted in Fox News, 40% of millennials say college did not help them find work or lead to the career of their dreams; they were “forced” to carry out fleeting practical choices “to sustain their needs”.  This is why you also need to consider future employment opportunities in your choosing-the-perfect-college journey.

Ultimately, the perfect college is not about the university or campus that you are attending; it is about your drive and determination to persevere. When you finally wear your black academic robe and receive your diploma, your Alma Mater will always be a part of you. The feeling of fulfillment will overwhelm you because you did it–you made it through college! In the end, it won’t matter how many times examinations tortured you, how many friends betrayed you, or how many times you were practically plunged into misery. After all, the Perfect College is what you make it.