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How to select a college or university

Updated on June 30, 2013

Evaluate your goals

The first step in deciding which college is right for you, you must first decide what you want to do when you graduate. This may sound weird, but if you wish to have a job in a field related to your degree upon graduation, it is a must.

Once you have decided what career path you wish to pursue, then it's time to determine which college will put you on that path! For instance, (since I'm from Texas, I'll use Texas schools) if you want to major in business the University of Texas would bet your best bet. Is agriculture your calling? Then Texas A&M is your school. How do I know this? You have to look at these schools rankings for their different degree programs.

Okay, you want to work for Goldman Sachs M&A and you are headed to UT. WooHoo!

Be realistic

Even if you are a straight A student, I wouldn't hold my breath hoping to get into Harvard. It's a great goal to have, but it is a wise idea to have a back up plan. If you are a senior in high school, odds are that you already have a list of schools that are 'out of your reach'. And, there is nothing wrong with that.

So, you goofed off in high school, but now you want to get a college degree. What now?? Well, you have a few options. First, go to a local community college. For many this is a great option: you get to save A LOT of money, and, you can usually transfer to a school that is better than what you would have been able to get into straight out of high school.

Now, if the field you wish to enter isn't very competitive (see the above text about goals) then you might should go to a lower ranked college. For instance, if you want to get a degree just to say you have it, and plan on working for a non-profit, then sure, go to whichever school you wish.

But, for some of us, we have to go to the school that will set us up with the job of our dreams, which happen to be competitive.

Think financially

College is expensive, very expensive. What is one to do? Research, research, research! Look for any and all scholarships and grants available to you. There are literally tons of scholarships available to students, but most don't even know about them. There are scholarships offered by your individual school as well as ones offered by your state.

Another thing that many of my peers have failed to do during our college experience is totally forgetting to submit there FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) which is offered by the federal government. This is an amazing resource for those who qualify, but you have to apply!

So, apply for any scholarships that you think you might qualify for, and make sure to pay attention to deadlines.

Helpful guides

Another good idea to assist you in choosing a college is a guide. There are many of these guides on Amazon, Ebay, and countless other places (local book stores, for example). Also, there are many types of guides. Some help you decide which major is best for you, and other help you choose which college fits you the best.

Another mistake many future college goers make is not utilizing their high school guidance counselors! These are people who went to college to help you go to college! They are very knowledgeable, and will help you find the right college or university for you.

Find your fit

It is important to find where you will fit in. After all, you will be spending the next 4 or so years at this college, so you want to be sure you will at least like if not love it. Are you a country boy/girl? Then, maybe NYU isn't the best idea. Love city life? TAMU is a terrible idea for you.

When I was college hunting, I visited many colleges that I felt were all pretty much equal in terms of curriculum. This made deciding which college to attend a no brainer! The moment I stepped onto my current campus for the first time during a tour, I was in love. It made me forget about all of the other schools I had visited.

Summary

  • Figure out your career goals
  • Find a college you can afford
  • Be realistic with yourself
  • Look for outside information, such a guides and guidance counselors.

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