For many high schools juniors and seniors, selecting a college is the biggest decision they have ever had to make. It can be an emotional decision and of course, a financial one. To find the best college for you takes time and research. There are certainly a lot of steps in selecting a college but here are five that you should consider.
1. Determine What You Want to Do: Do you know what field of study you would like to focus on? If you are exploring careers, reach out to people who are already working in those areas. For example, if you wish to become a veterinarian, interview several veterinarians to learn what they do. Ask them how they like their job, what are their day-to-day duties, etc. In whatever field you chose, it’s important to understand what you would be getting into.
2. Conduct Your Research: Research multiple colleges to determine which one will meet your need. Finding the college that meets your needs is one of the most important decisions in the college selection process. You don’t have to attend one of “name brand” schools if they don’t fit your needs. Your needs fall into several categories such as career needs, financial needs and possibly location needs. Do you want to attend a large school or a school with a small student population? Do want to attend an all male or female institution? These and others are the type of needs you will need to research to make a decision.
3. Financial Documents: Make sure you have completed all of the required financial paperwork that your school requires. The majority of colleges will need for you to complete the FAFSA application. Get started early in gathering and completing your financial paperwork because it can help to relieve stress as you narrow your collegiate choices.
4. Find Money: College is expensive. Determining how to pay for it can be a stressful process. Start early applying for scholarships. There are multiple sites such as FastWeb and Scholarships.com where you can research scholarships. You will also have to decide if you will pursue college loans. If you chose this route, make sure you understand that college debt can be a hindrance after you graduate because you are obligated to pay the loan back. So think about this decision carefully.
5. Be Selective: After you conduct your research you will then have to narrow your choices down to a few colleges. You don’t want to waste time applying to colleges that don’t fit your needs. So be selective in picking colleges that you really want to attend. Make sure these colleges fit your needs and are ones that will help you obtain the career you are seeking.
While knowing what you want to do for a career is important, there are times when you may be undecided, and that’s fine also. Many times you can use your freshman or sophomore years in college to help you select a major. Do not let the fear of not knowing what to do stop you from achieving your dreams of a college degree. Explore, ask questions, and learn from your experiences. Your dream of a college degree can come true.