How to Choose the Right College

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How to Choose the Right College

Adriana Castro and Guiliana Garces

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As college decisions begin to roll in, many seniors face the challenge of choosing which college to attend. It is a difficult process to put together a college list and practically impossible to choose between two or more of your top choice schools once you are accepted. However, there is a method to choosing between your top choices as there is always something that distinguishes one school from the other. Use this guide to help you find the right college for you!

Step 1: Research (Scholarships, Financial Aid, Scores, GPA)

Once you receive your letter of acceptance, it is time research on each school in order to determine which one is best for you. When comparing different colleges, it can be beneficial to make lists of the advantages and disadvantages of each school. Keep in mind that a benefit for one student may be a negative for you, so follow your own likes and dislikes to construct your lists; it is your life! Some things you can research are:

  • Clubs available
  • Scholarships offered
  • Programs available
  • Average standardized test scores
  • Average grade point average
  • Graduation rates

Make sure you are using trustworthy websites like CollegeData, or the school’s official website. Watch out for out-dated or inaccurate information. You can also contact the admissions officers with any questions.

“As a junior, I am already stressing thinking about making a decision for college. But I definitely think that visiting the college’s website for information and just researching on different websites is super helpful,” junior Sabrina Ojeda said.

Step 2: Life Map

In order to make college the most enjoyable experience it can be, you need to figure out what kind of life you want to lead. Life-mapping is a wonderful way to visualize what kind of person you are, and therefore what kind of environment you belong in. You can create your own Life Map by writing/drawing the following:

  • the most joyful moments of your life
  • your goals
  • your passions
  • your accomplishments
  • anything else that forms part of your life

Once you have everything down, you can start finding patterns in your life and discover things about yourself that you may not have realized. For example, if you determine that you are a family-oriented individual, you may want to stay close to home. If you notice that you like being surrounded by lots of people, then you may want to look into universities with larger student bodies.

Step 3: Campus visits

Visiting campuses is the most crucial step in deciding between different schools. Many colleges can have amazing opportunities but seniors must be aware of where they are going to live for the next four years. Most students describe a feeling of belonging as soon as they step on campus. The atmosphere and every person you meet at different schools can help you decide where you want to attend. It is also important to take advantage of your time on campus and ask current students about their experiences. Speaking to professors and even prospective students will be very beneficial in helping you decide.

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Going into the college process, I focused on academics and the experience that a college could provide me. Living in Miami, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the University of Miami since I was young and it has always felt like home. Having the feeling of comfort and being somewhere you love was most important for me in choosing colleges to apply to.”

— senior Kaylin Yudice

Step 4: Consider the financial aid you are being offered

Before making a decision as to which college is right for you, look at the financial aid packet you received for each school. It is important to sit down with your parents and figure out if your family is able to afford the price tag for that college. Some schools may give you a full ride but others may only pay for half the Cost of Attendance (COA). If your family cannot pay the COA, then you might want to consider a more economically sound school or one that offers you a larger amount of financial aid.

Always remember that there is always a way to make your college decision easier. In the end, no matter where a student chooses to go to college, it is about what they do with their time there that matters more than where they choose to go.

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