This post was written by Madison, one of our fabulous PBdorm ambassadors!
Whether you’re a high-school senior who’s narrowed down your college choices or an underclassman still doing the research, there are a few things worth thinking about when choosing a school. Make college the best four years of your life – and weigh these four key elements for every college you’re considering.
1. Social culture. It can be hard to get the feeling of a school’s culture before you’re actually immersed in it, but ask current students their opinions – or better yet, stay overnight. Ask yourself whether you’d enjoy a campus where Greek life or athletics are the dominating social factors. Would you prefer to be in a big city, or do you like the feel of a small town? Would you rather know all your classmates, or does a large campus sound like more fun? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your search – and will help make the decision process easier.
2. School size. There are pros and cons to both big and small schools. With a large school, there’s sometimes the concern over getting lost in a sea of thousands upon thousands of students – but you might also like the opportunity to meet new people every day. Small colleges offer closer relationships among students and professors, but it’s also possible that you’ll feel restricted by the lack of new people. One thing to consider is the size of your high school. Consider how you feel there, and let that help guide you to the right size college for you.
3. Location, location, location. Being far from home can be a scary thought – but don’t forget that college is a time to try new things, and moving away can be exciting. (I was excited to experience my first “real,” non-California winter!) To help you decide what’s best for you, consider a couple of things:
- Weather. Do you enjoy having four distinct seasons? Have you experienced a harsh winter? Consider how important the weather is to you (and be sure to budget for weather-appropriate clothing!).
- Transportation. Having easy access to transportation can make a difference. How easy (and costly) is it to get to and from the airport when you want to go home? What’s the bus system like if you need to get around without a car? Also, consider the location of the school within the community itself. Remotely located schools foster closer relationships with students because people are on campus most of the time – but that also makes traveling more difficult during school breaks.
4. All about academics. Don’t forget why you’re going to college in the first place: academics. You might find a school that feels like a great fit socially, but it doesn’t offer the major you’re looking for. While college is about learning more about yourself, don’t forget that your education really comes first – the rest is a happy bonus. If you’re not sure what you want to major in yet, find out which fields the colleges you’re looking at specialize in – and decide whether those are fields you actually might consider.
In the end, deciding on a college is almost like a gut instinct – you’ll know one’s right for you. The most important thing is that choosing is an enjoyable process, because no matter which college you go with, you’ll enjoy yourself. I honestly believe that!