By Emma Twigg & Paige Sheldrake
As spring gets closer, so does the most important decision for Seniors: college decision-making. Choosing a college to spend the next four years of your life at can seem like a daunting task. There are so many factors to consider and plenty of options to keep in mind. Cost, distance, location, and environment are a few of the most important aspects to consider.
Cost is very important when looking at a college or university. Senior Kaylee Fenton says that when she was applying to schools, “cost was the most important”. Tuition is typically the most expensive part of the total college bill. Talk to your parents about their budget, discuss loans, and see if you are eligible for any financial aid. Another aspect to consider when talking about cost is scholarships. Have you received any scholarships? Are you planning on applying for scholarships? Most schools have a wide variety of scholarships you can apply for to help lower the cost of attending the school. If the schools you are looking at do not offer as many scholarships as you would like, look for outside scholarships. There are many organizations and groups that offer money to prospective college students. Make sure to look into what you are eligible to apply for and what the scholarship winnings include.
Another component to consider in choosing a school is location and distance. This goes along with cost, especially if you wish to go out of state. If you plan on enrolling in a school far away, keep in mind the price of traveling back home for holidays. Consider not only travel expenses to come home, but you may also need emotional support from family. Being on your own can be a lot to adjust to and you may want to go home to a familiar place for the weekend. Birthdays, family events, or even a weekend with family are also important. It can be hard to visit if your school is several states away and requires a plane ride. When asked, many Glenelg Seniors claimed they applied primarily out of state. However, living away from home can be difficult at first, so consider the homesickness and if you will need to be able to go home on the weekends.
Your top choice school should include your major. The whole point of college is to further your education and to get a degree. The school should have a good program for what you wish to major in, as this is important for your future and getting a steady job. Many said that this was a huge factor when deciding on a school. Marisa Patsy, a Senior at Glenelg, said “The school’s program is really important to me when considering where I want to go”. Try to find out as much information as you can about the school’s program for your major. Consider talking to current students who are studying the same major or even reach out to professors about what they think of the program. You may need to look for internships and job opportunities that are available through the school.
When choosing a college consider if you feel comfortable on campus and in the surrounding area. Make sure you feel at home on the campus by visiting or taking a tour. You may find that the campus surroundings may not be a good fit for you. Some people prefer a more urban campus, while others enjoy the quiet life of rural campuses. Are there activities available on campus? Green spaces or a quad to enjoy the outdoors? What about the town surrounding the school? Are there things to do and places to visit or hang out? These are aspects that often get overlooked in the college search process. Not only consider area, but also climate. Schools located in the northern parts of the country typically remain cold for the majority of the school year. If you are not comfortable with cold weather, consider going to a school where the weather won’t be an issue. The actual size of the campus is also important. If the campus is large, it could take 20 to 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other. You may have to purchase some mode of transportation, such as a bike or skateboard to get from class to class.
College decision-making is something that takes a lot of time and consideration. Take into account all aspects of college life and what will be the best fit for you. Don’t feel that you’re overwhelmed with choices and decisions, talk to your friends and peers who are going through the exact same process. It may seem difficult, but the end result is worth it.