Choosing a college is arguably one of the most important decisions any of us make – it really does determine how the rest of your life will turn out. Therefore, we should probably be taking it pretty seriously. Sorry for all of you out there who wanted to pick your school based on its winning sports teams or super cute colors! Now, you may be wondering what a real reason to commit to a college is. It definitely varies by person, but some reasons are pretty universal, so here are a few, in no particular order, for your careful consideration:
A school’s reputation – You want to go somewhere that you can get a respectable degree. Look for a college that specializes in something you’re interested in career-wise. For example, if you want to be a doctor or a nurse, and then consider a bigger university like a state school versus a small, liberal arts college since a bigger school is more likely to have a large, up-to-date hospital and lab facilities on campus. Or maybe even consider a more prestigious school, like an Ivy League, for grad school. A Harvard PhD sounds pretty impressive, and the connections you make at these fancy universities can send you straight from the classroom to Wall Street.
Affordability – Sorry to get practical here, but cost should be one of the first things you consider in picking a school. Look for places where you can get big scholarships without taking loans out. So if you play a sport but maybe aren’t Division-1, consider a Division-2 or 3 school where they’ll pay your way through four years to play for them. A walk-on basketball player at a major university like UK could be a full-ride, star player at a smaller school like Georgetown College. Maybe even consider a work-study school like Berea so you can help pay your own way through school and not be stuck with student debts for the next decade.
Location – College “shopping” is kind of like real estate in the fact that location can really be key. You need to think long and hard about whether or not you really want a seven-hour plane ride when you want to come home. Location is the difference between seeing your family and friends every other weekend or once a year at Christmas. Also, in-state schools will have cheaper rated than public out-of-state schools, so that may factor in to your choice as well. Remember, if you plan to go on past a 4-year degree anyways, an in-state undergrad degree can save you a lot of money to put toward grad school. Plus, you can get that “far away” experience through study-abroad for a less committed, more exotic approach to picking your college location. If you love being that far away, maybe transfer out of state (or even out of the country) then or choose a foreign grad program.