4 Most Important College Considerations
Posted by The Editors on November 10, 2011
College deadlines are fast approaching, which means all you high school juniors, seniors, and college transfer students are probably grinding your teeth down to the bone and stressing big time. Oh and we can’t forget your parents who are undoubtedly putting on the pressure, right? I remember those days (sigh…) and as a nerdy high school student who was relatively stress-free (okay, the SATs sucked both times I took it), choosing which colleges to apply to and ultimately deciding the one I would attend was the most stressful time of my high school career.
Unfortunately I can’t provide you with the magic formula that will take all your stress away and make the big decisions for you, but I can tell you that by being prepared and doing your research, you’ll be much happier in the long run.
If you’re going through the college process in high school or are already in college and thinking of transferring schools, here are my four most important college considerations when deciding where you should attend.
1. Don’t Let Others Influence Your Decision
Whether you’re in high school or college, what your friends, teachers, guidance counselors, and parents say probably matters to you. Opinions are good, but don’t let anyone else make this decision. You have to go with your gut and not simply apply where all of your friends are applying. Sure it would be nice to be around 10 of your closest buddies next year, but then you may not make as many new friends. This is a major step you’re taking towards independence. Just like you’re hopefully not going to let others influence your major and your career path, don’t let them influence your college choice.
2. Ivy League vs Average Joe
There are numerous ongoing debates about whether graduating with an Ivy League education will get you further in your career than attending a non-Ivy school. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “Top-tier colleges tend to attract recruiting visits from companies that have stopped visiting elsewhere. A diploma from an elite school can look better to many recruiters and graduate schools, as well.”
On the flipside, Ivies are expensive and can leave you in debt. Don’t think because you’re going to a lesser-known school that your chances of career glory are over. Many professionals argue that graduate outcomes depend more on your major, the school’s program, and how students take advantage of networking and internship opportunities than just having a well-known name on your résumé.
3. Know Your Interests
Knowing what interests you definitely helps when deciding which colleges to apply to and attend. If you’re interested in a specific career field like journalism, education, or civil engineering, do some research on what universities offer the best programs. If you’re unsure of what major you’re going to pick, keep in mind that large, state schools may give you the most options. If you’re looking for a broad curriculum and have varied interests, consider a liberal arts college.
4. Capitalize on Extracurricular Activities
High school and college allow for a lot of self-exploration. Join a club that interests you, get involved in sports, or start volunteering. This will make choosing a major much easier. Four years of high school is ample time to find out what you like and what you’re good at, so try anything and everything. College applications ask about any activities you’ve participated in, but don’t get activity-crazy and find that you have no time to study. College admission officers would rather see that you have a certain focus than dip your hand in everything.