It’s the time of year again where millions of students across the country spending hours scouring the internet, looking for the best colleges to apply to. There are tons of things to consider when searching for colleges to apply to, but these five things are (in my opinion) the most important things to look for, and helped me greatly when I was searching for my dream school exactly a year ago.
Tuition Price and Availability of Scholarships
Aside from your major, the cost of attending school is the most important factor. Going to university is great… if you can afford it. If you’re considering a school, check their online tuition calculator, and calculate what the total cost will be for four years. If it’s out of your price range, look to see how many students receive financial aid and what kind of scholarships you could potentially earn. Many schools offer half-off or full tuition scholarships depending on GPA and test scores. However, some schools provide barely any financial aid to students, and some don’t provide financial aid to out-of-state students– MANY students don’t think about this when applying to college, so make sure that you account for all of these factors when calculating the overall price of attending a particular school.
There are hundreds of schools across the nation with religious affiliations–some notable ones are Notre Dame, Boston University, and the University of Pittsburgh. While it often isn’t mandatory to be Christian in order to attend these schools, Theology or other religiously centered classes are often mandatory for general education requirements. If you’d rather not attend a school that requires theology classes or often has Christian guest speakers visit campus, perhaps it’s best to cross these colleges off your list.
In today’s world where politics is quite a popular (and often controversial) topic to talk about, and especially since collge is the time when most people gain an interest in politics, considering a school’s political leaning might make or break a potential school for you. Most schools in the south and midwest are often much more conservative than schools on the west or east coast. To best find out the political atmosphere of a particular schools, it’s best to look online, or even better, visit the school in person on a tour in order to get a feel for how politically outspoken the students are.
Some schools are right in the middle of huge cities like LA or New York, others are in the suburbs, and some are in very rural areas, hours away from the nearest city. The area surrounding your school might also make or break your college experience– if you’re a city person or someone who loves going out on weekends, but your school is located in a very rural area, you might struggle to find things to do when you’re not studying. Again, the best way to discover whether or not your school’s surrounding area would be a good fit for you, visit the school in person on a tour and explore the surrounding areas a bit!
Each school is unique in its own way–some are STEM based schools, others are liberal arts oriented, and others are research oriented. The academic reputation of the school you attend will be incredibly important for supplementing your major and building your skills– if you want to be an engineer, you want to make sure you’re going to a school that has tons of resources and opportunities for engineering students, and if you want to be a doctor, you’ll probably want to attend a research university in order to get the niche research skills that will help you later on in medical school. If you want to major in English, but are looking at a school that’s known for its STEM programs, perhaps you should apply elsewhere, to a school that can better fit the needs for your specific major.