First off, I would like to note that college can be some of the best years of your life. It has its ups and downs, ins and outs, all-nighters in the library, good times with lifelong friends, and many new valuable experiences. Make the best of your college years, choose friends that are right for you, go out and meet new people, experience new things and just be a kid because once you graduate and go into the work force, you won’t have all of those opportunities available to you anymore.
That being said, you need to choose the right college that will make you happy. The first step in this process is doing some self-assessment. Figure out what you are looking for when you go to college, ask yourself why you are going and decide if you can be socially self-sufficient or if you need family and friend support nearby. Next, you need to ask yourself how big you want your college to be. There are thousands of different colleges and universities out there of all different sizes, so you need to decide for yourself if you want a small community with internal support or if you want a large community where you can constantly meet new and different people. It is also important to think about whether or not you would feel lost in a huge community of people and if you can make new friends on your own.
The next step is asking other people that you know what their experiences were like. Ask them where they went to college, what they liked or disliked and what they got out of it. This can help you figure out where you stand in your decision. You can also do some research on your own. There are great websites like collegeboard.com that give you a lot of interesting statistics about many different colleges. You also need to decide the proximity that you would like your college to be in, whether that is strictly in-state, in surrounding states or anywhere in the country, etc. This is important to note, especially if you feel like you might get homesick. Also ask yourself if you would like to attend school in a large city, a small city, the suburbs or in a rural area. This will be important for the proximity and the atmosphere of the school.
Once you have narrowed it down this far, you should do some research on what extracurricular and other activities and clubs the college or university has to offer for the students. This is where some self-assessment comes in again. Decide what you would like to do in college. Do you want to play lots of intramural or club sports, do you want to be on student government, plan social events, study abroad, co-op, etc.? Find the schools that have all of the resources and opportunities available that you would like to participate in. This will help you make the most of your college experience. You should also look at what degrees, majors and curricula the school has available. If you already know what you want to study, then you need to make sure that school has that major. If not, then that’s OK! You can try to decide whether you want to go to a more liberal arts school or a science and technology schools. Many large universities are very well-rounded and have everything.
After choosing all of this, make sure you are not choosing a college based on where your friends are going, or where someone wants you to go, or because it’s ranked high. You will receive a good education no matter what school you attend. So make sure you are choosing it for you, and many money issues can be settled. There are numerous scholarships and grants available for students as well as financial aid. You just have to go looking for them. There are many websites with numerous scholarships on them, such as fastweb.com and scholarships.com. All you have to do is apply for them.
Lastly, it can be important to go visit the colleges you are thinking about. At each visit ask yourself if you can see yourself as a student there. Make sure you like the atmosphere and the people. And also be sure to apply to more than one college just in case!