By Hannah Butera
The years you spend in college are arguably the most important of your life. Your social, academic, and independent experiences sculpt you as a person and prepare you for your future plans. In saying this, it is crucial to select a college that best fits your needs. As opposed to selecting a college merely for one aspect, like sports or the social scene, there is a multitude of factors that need consideration to ensure that you get the most out of your college experience.
Above all, affordability is the most important. Before anything, make sure the college is in a price range that is affordable to you or your family. It is important to take financial aid and scholarships into account when looking at the price, for the estimated tuition can likely be alleviated based on those factors. Student loans are also a significant factor. While they may allow you to attend the school of your dreams, keep in mind it could mean monthly payments for anywhere from fifteen to twenty years.
If you love constant warm weather and sunshine, would going to a school up North make sense? No! That’s why the region and climate you desire is a factor that should weigh heavily on your decision. When I asked Senior Lily Discepolo about her college research process, she said, “When I started my college search, I made sure to research only Southern schools because I am not one with cold weather.” However, aside from personal climate preference, it is also important to go somewhere that is a comfortable distance for you from home. If you don't mind going far, you're options are endless! If you think you're more comfortable staying close to home, that's okay too. Remember, plane tickets can be pricy and not every school has an airport nearby; take this into account as well!
The underlying point of going to college is the education you receive, so your academic interest should be a top priority when you make your decision. If you are set on a career path and have an utter passion for a certain subject, choose a school that specializes in it. For example, if you're passionate about becoming an artist, go to an art school, not a school that specializes in engineering or math. However, if you are unsure, going into a larger university “undecided” is a good option, for it will likely offer endless academic opportunities for you to explore. But remember, it is always okay to change your major!
What you’re looking for from a social standpoint is also important to think about. If you are looking to have an extremely involved social life, a larger school with a multitude of clubs and organizations is your best answer. Along with this, Greek life is something to consider. If sororities or fraternities are something that call out to you, make sure the schools you're looking into offer them. Junior Leya Prezelski is starting her college research. “Being in a sorority is something I am looking forward to, so I’m looking at colleges that have this option,” said Prezelski. Sports is another aspect that people often seek in a college. A school with involved sports teams is likely a good option for those interested in an involved social agenda. However, if your education and personal growth is your top priority, a smaller campus that offers a more personalized education might be a better fit.
Selecting a college requires a lot of time and thought. If the college you choose balances all of the factors you seek in your experience, it will likely be a good match. Make sure you consider every factor, and you’ll find a college fit for you!