You’ve done it. You survived SATs and ACTs, the Common App, essays, and somehow managed to maintain your sanity during the last year of high school. Take a moment to process all of your achievements, they’re not small, and you deserve recognition.
But now that you’ve applied, and you’ve gotten in—perhaps to more than one of the places you applied, how do you make that one final decision?
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to remember that there is no right or wrong answer. Each person looks for the kind of college experience that suits their personalities and goals, so while it’s definitely a good idea to discuss among your friends and family, and other people who’ve already made this decision, always remember that the final choice should be up to no one else but you. After all, it is you who will have to attend that school for the next four years.
So now that that’s been established, how do you go about making the final decision? There are definitely a lot of factors that play important roles in the kind of match that a college or university will be for you.
The Final College Decision: Choosing Where to Go—What Does it Have to Offer?
A good way to start looking for the right college is to consider what it has to offer you specifically. What are your general interests? What is your academic area of interest? What are your hobbies?
For example, Emerson College was the right match for me because of the Writing, Literature and Publishing major that it offered and the Liberal Arts approach that it had towards academics. I also made sure to look at all of the campus student organizations to make sure that not only my academic interests would be fulfilled, but also my recreational and extracurricular ones.
So think about what you want to study, what you want to do in your free time, and what you want your professors and peers to be like, when looking at what each college or university has to offer.
The Final College Decision: Choosing Where to Go—Looking at Location
An important thing to consider is where the school is located: big city, small city, small town, middle of nowhere, middle of everything? Because trust me, there are colleges everywhere—and they all have their perks and downfalls.
A way of approaching this subject is thinking about where you grew up and what you thought of that place. Did you always wonder what it would be like to live in a bigger place? What about a smaller one? Take advantage of the wonder that is the Internet to search for the kinds of activities and opportunities that surround each school.
Just because a college might be located in a small town, doesn’t mean there’s not a ton of fun, interesting things for students to do. In many cases, the smaller the college or town, the bigger the effort that the school makes to make the environment student-friendly. One of the downfalls however, is that sometimes transportation to other places can be difficult to access, and you need to be dependent on what each individual place has to offer.
On the flip side, if you’re thinking about going to college in a big city, then there’s no doubt that you’ll always have options for things to do during nights and weekends, and there’s a good chance you’ll get to interact with students from other universities as well—sometimes facilitating your networking capabilities. A downfall of this kind of location for a college or university might be the noise, traffic, and overall hectic feel that a large, busy city will no doubt overwhelm you at one point or another.
Other important things to consider location-wise are weather, the actual campus (or lack thereof), and proximity to wherever it is you consider home.
The Final College Decision: Choosing Where to Go—One Last Piece of Advice
Never, ever, think that this “final decision” is in fact, “final” to be set in stone, and never altered. Like I said before, everyone looks for different things and it is completely natural to make mistakes and simply change our minds—that’s what being a young adult is all about. So embrace the opportunities and embrace the possibility of change.
With that said, don’t take this decision lightly. Think about the options that you have and make a pro and cons list (as cheesy as it sounds, they can really be useful), consult with your friends and parents, and remember that you should have the final say.
Finally, if you have the opportunity to do so, visit the schools that you have been accepted into. Many colleges and universities have days specifically designated for prospective students, and experiencing the campus, it’s surroundings, and the general vibe of the place and other students firsthand, can really help you make an informed decision.
–Ariela Rudy Zaltzman, Content Editor