College decision time is here. Follow these expert tips to help you decide which college to attend.
Congratulations, you have been accepted into college. You may have offers from more than one university and you have to decide which college to attend. Picking the right school is an important decision for students and may be the biggest decision in your life.
In the U.S., May 1 is known as National College Decision Day. And in advance of this important decision, we have 6 tips to help you decide which university is right for you.
1. Relax & Enjoy the Moment
Now that you have multiple acceptance offers, the first thing you should do is smile. It is normal to have some hesitation, but the bottom line is that you are officially going to college. Getting into one of your top universities is no easy task and getting accepted into more than one is impressive. Be proud of yourself and take some time to celebrate your accomplishments with friends and family.
2. Use the Rankings Wisely
You might be tempted to pick the highest ranked school, but students should resist the urge to attend a college or university solely on prestige. The U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Top National Universities can be a useful tool to guide your decision, but it is important to use these rankings correctly.
U.S. News & World Report uses a variety of metrics and calculations to rank each college. The rankings should serve as a general guideline as a school that is ranked lower may be a better fit for you than a school that is ranked higher.
Make sure you consider a variety of factors that are specific to you, which may not be captured by the rankings when you pick your college.
3. Consider the Financials
Let’s face it: college is expensive, and some colleges are more expensive than others. When deciding between colleges, you need to consider your or your family’s ability to pay.
• Does one school charge less tuition than the others?
• Does one school offer better financial aid than the others?
• Did any schools offer you a scholarship?
Another factor in how to choose a college is whether or not you want to pursue postgraduate education after you earn your undergraduate degree. You may not know right now, and that’s OK—after all, you haven’t even gone to college yet—but keep it in mind.
If you want to attend graduate school, medical school, or law school, you will have to pay for several more years of education after college. In this case, it might be wise to select a less expensive school for your undergraduate education.
Everybody’s financial situation is different, so talk to your family about money and the role it should play in deciding which college to attend.
[Related: Check out our resources for paying for school]
4. Visit Your Top Schools
If you can visit your top schools, taking a campus tour can be a great way to get a feel for what life there is like before you commit. Your college campus will be your new home for the next 4 years, so you should pick somewhere that you can see yourself fitting in.
Take the time to eat in the dining halls, walk around the campus, and sit in on a few classes. Some schools even offer special Admitted Students Days and overnight visits that will allow you to stay in the dorms and meet professors.
If you are unable to visit in person, there are still plenty of great ways to get a better feel for each school. Some colleges offer virtual campus tours, and many have Facebook groups for admitted students. Joining social groups will allow you to meet other students who may already attend those schools. Networking before you pick your college can be a great way to ask questions and gauge the student body culture.
5. Research the Academics
Each college has specific academic offerings, and many are stronger in some departments than in others. In addition, some schools offer a wide variety of educational programs, while other schools are highly specialized in specific fields.
If you are undecided on a major, a liberal arts college that offers a lot of degree options, such as Castleton University, may be right for you. If you already know what you want to study, a school with a strong specialization program, such as the Milwaukee School of Engineering, could be a better fit.
A helpful practice is to research the school’s majors, then look up the courses offered. Do the courses sound interesting? Would you be excited to take them? If you can’t get excited about the classes, perhaps that college isn’t the best fit for you.
6. Ask an Expert for Help
If you are still having trouble deciding which college to attend before the May 1 deadline, it is OK to ask for help. U.S. News Global Education partners with some of the world’s best education counselors who can work with you one-on-one to help you make your decision.
Contact an education counselor to help you decide which university to attend.