A Guide to Choosing the Right College
After standardized tests, college tours, and applications, you’re probably ready for the college admissions drill to end. But now another important phase of the admissions process begins.
If you were thorough with your applications, you’ll hopefully receive offers from multiple schools, and choosing among them can seem impossible (even a choice between just two can be difficult!). Here are several factors to weigh as you navigate this difficult decision:
If you’re serious about academics, your professors can greatly affect your college experience. I cannot overemphasize this: A student who is choosing between a prestigious college with mediocre professors in his or her field or a less competitive school with excellent professors in said field, should probably choose the second option, if all else is equal. Your instructors relate to your recommendations, professional help, and, most important, friendships and mentorships that can be invaluable after graduation.
This factor is very closely related to the one above. In a tie between a smaller college and a larger one, I believe students should seriously consider the smaller school. This is primarily because professor-student relationships are generally more common and deeper at small institutions. Professors who become familiar with their students over a period of several years will likely be able to provide them with personal feedback and insight that even the best professors can’t give to students whom they teach only once in a large lecture course. Small colleges also allow students to feel more connected and to build a sense of comprehensive community on campus.
A number of sub-factors are involved here:
Proximity to family and friends
Certain students try to attend college as far away from home as possible. While this option can be attractive for a variety of reasons, remaining close to home is often a good thing—if only because of the option to visit. Aim to attend a school that’s close enough that you can visit home every month or two, but not so close that you feel compelled to go home every weekend.
Proximity to metropolitan areas
Attending a school that’s near a large city or town may be important to you. Or maybe you’re interested in a campus with a sprawling, suburban feel that’s within an hour of all the educational and entertainment options offered in a surrounding metropolitan region.
Proximity to other colleges
This factor is rarely considered, but if one of your potential schools is located near other similar colleges, attending it may mean that you benefit from some of the advantages of the other schools as well. Many libraries allow students from other schools to access their resources, and student organizations often love to collaborate with similar organizations at other colleges. This kind of socialization is almost always a boon to students at both schools.
Ultimately, the college experience can be an incredible and formative experience, wherever you choose to study. So, weigh your options carefully and then go for it!