College admissions season is exciting, but can also be full of tough decisions as you narrow your choices down to the right college for you. The first step to choosing the right college, whether you’re a high school student or you’re looking at colleges as an adult, is to figure out what you want out of it. Take these 10 questions to ask yourself before choosing a college and answer them honestly so that you can be sure your higher education choice fits your lifestyle and career goals.
1) What extracurriculars do you want to be involved in?
You should first think about what kind of lifestyle you want at college. Are you looking for extra activities to participate in, or do you just want an academically rigorous program? If there is a specific organization or club you'd like to be involved in, such as greek life or club sports, extracurricular choices may be an important factor in your choice.
2) Where do you want to be in five years?
You might think it’s silly, but your five-year plan is something that should definitely be considered when choosing where you want to go to college. If your dream is to live in New York City, and you end up at the University of New Mexico (located in Albuquerque), you may be limited in how you can achieve that dream.
3) Do you like the campus lifestyle?
Does your chosen college have strong ties to its community? Is there a lot of school spirit at each sporting event? These may be questions you can ask yourself to determine if the "vibe" of the school matches your dream college experience.
4) Do you want somewhere with a strong alumni network?
A big part of choosing where you go to college is deciding how important a strong alumni network will be for your future. This alumni network, which may include a powerful employer or mentor, can help determine whether or not your degree was worth it in ten years’ time. If there are schools with strong alumni networks you’re interested in, do some research into these organizations and assess their potential impact on your future before making your final decision.
5) How do you feel about class sizes?
While you’re asking yourself questions, ask yourself about class sizes. If you thrive in smaller settings, stick with schools that emphasize small classes and individualized attention. On the other hand, if you love being around lots of people and participating in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, select an institution with bigger class sizes that offer plenty of opportunities for networking.
6) What majors are available there?
Unsurprisingly, different colleges offer different majors. For example, if you plan on majoring in Marketing and attend a school that does not offer a Marketing major, you will have to choose something else to major in. Make sure to hop on the school's website and check that your intended major is available before making your choice.
7) What is there to do around campus?
This is an important question to ask yourself. College is about furthering your education, but also about having fun! If you’re hoping to stay away from campus most of your time, that’s great! However, if you want to take advantage of college life, do you want to find a school where there are always things going on? Or do you prefer somewhere quieter? Try and get an idea of whether or not there are fun things to do around campus so that there aren’t any unpleasant surprises when it comes time for move-in day.