In today’s highly competitive world, selecting the right colleges to apply for admission to can be a daunting task. There are, after all, seemingly a thousand things to think about when it comes to choosing the first place you will be spending the beginning of your adult life away from home at. That’s why I want to point out the two most important things you should be thinking about when you try to take in the “big picture” of narrowing your school choices down to a less overwhelming list of potentials.
Should You Choose the Right Name or the Right School?
Sure, everybody knows Harvard, MIT, Princeton, and Yale. But is everybody a good fit for those schools? In many cases, no. Most high schoolers are pressured to apply to the schools carrying the biggest titles because of the prestige associated with a degree from those institutions.
But here’s the thing: you shouldn’t apply to attend any of those schools if they aren’t right for you.
If you are a future Liberal Arts major, none of these schools may offer the full depth a program at a smaller, lesser-known campus can provide in your chosen subject matter. But if you’re planning on a future in business, law, or politics, the big-name schools can give you the edge you need for a successful future.
What Kind of Life Do You Want Outside of Academics?
Understandably, you’ll want to choose a college or university that offers the educational programs you intend to pursue as a career field following graduation, but what else should a school environment provide for you?
For most young adults, stepping out into the world away from the safety net of their home and parents can be a scary thing. Building a good support system of friends, and filling life outside the classroom with activities you enjoy can make the transition less stressful and a lot more fun.
Choosing a school that offers athletic, club, or intramural activities which align with your interests is a great way to meet other like-minded individuals with whom you can share those interests and grow your social circle. Often, the friendships you forge in college will be the friendships that carry on throughout the rest of your life.
In the same vein, choosing a school in the right type of geographic setting is a huge factor in many students’ college success. For example, an 18-year-old who grew up ranching in a small Texas border town might have a hard time adjusting to the fast pace of life in New York City. In this case, applying to New York University might not be in this student’s best interests.
Taking the time to evaluate what you want to achieve for yourself while in college (besides good grades, obviously) is making an investment into your own future. Understanding that the things that make you happy now can make you happy and satisfied later in life is a big step in finding the right school to spend your next few years attending.