Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

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As you enter your junior year in high school, your college list may be unfocused with far too many schools. Most students wind up applying to six to eight schools, and narrowing your list to that range takes self-reflection. You have to be honest in assessing the type of person you are and what you hope to gain from your college experience.

What college is right for me?

We’ve found that students often are influenced by their parents and peers. They’re not encouraged to ask, “What is it that I want?” So when we meet them, we ask, “What type of learning environment do you want?” There is no right or wrong answer. After all, everyone is different.

We find the first step is sitting down as a family to discuss your wants and needs in college.  You must identify what is important to you.

To determine what best suits you—and, in turn, narrow your list down to something manageable and realistic—we deploy a model called S.A.F.E. which includes four key factors to consider when choosing a college.  Those are Social, Academic, Financial and Employment fit.  Using these factors when choosing a college will help you determine the schools that are the best overall fit for you.

SOCIAL FIT FACTORS

School Size – If you prefer an intimate classroom setting and personal interaction with your professors, a smaller school will fit the bill. You might have more leadership opportunities at a smaller college. Your impact may be greater at an institution of 1,200 compared to one of 40,000.

Among the appeals of larger schools is that they offer more majors. Big universities are also attractive to kids seeking a robust social setting, one that has, say, a thriving Greek scene or Big Ten football and basketball. We tend to find more extracurricular outlets at larger schools.

Location – Is avoiding the expense of flying back and forth to school a priority? If so, focus on colleges that are close to home. On the other hand, some students are drawn to faraway locales; maybe they love the vibe of the California culture or the natural wonders of Colorado. Other students might seek an urban campus because of everything a big city has to offer, such as abundant internship opportunities.

Our Guide to Choosing the Right College Fit Resource Page has insightful tools to explore additional factors to consider related to S.A.F.E.

ACADEMIC FIT FACTORS

Academic Majors of Interest – There are schools that are known for particular majors. Purdue, for example, ha