You may be apprehensive about choosing a college. Many of you ask for my advice each year regarding this major decision. I wrote you this letter to give you some knowledge from my own experience, the experience of my friends, and the experience of former students who are just like you. If you’d like to discuss your options, I’m happy to help.
My hope is that this letter will be of value to you and help make this daunting decision seem doable. 🙂
First figure out what’s important to you.
Does the college you are picking have a good program in the major that you are interested in?
Is the school size the right fit for you?
Does the school culture match what you are looking for? Is it the right distance away from your home now (it’s not too far, or too close depending on what you want)?
Do you want to attend an urban, rural, or suburban school? What is the cost of tuition?
Which of these questions are the most important to you?
These are just a few examples of important questions you and only you can answer. Answering them will help to increase the likelihood that you will be happy with your choice.
Answer and think about the questions above and then think about which of them matter most to you and weight those factors most heavily in your search.
Talk to people you trust and think about what they share with you.
Know someone you respect? Ask them what they think. Whether or not they’ve been to college, they have some life lessons they can share with you. Listen to them and think about what they said, and evaluate it for yourself. Learning from those you trust can be invaluable. Remember, all advice is autobiographical (including my own!).
Think about your life with your phone off in a quiet place.
Take half an hour, turn your phone off, and think about what you want for yourself. Be alone with your thoughts. The scarier that last sentence was for you, the more you need to do this. 😉
Pick the school that is the best fit for you.
Look at what colleges truly offer and see if they are a good fit for you. People may try to sway you to go to their alma mater or to a prestigious institution with a fancy name. Those schools may be great for you, or they might not! Your best friend might be going to a school that is perfect for her, but just doesn’t work for you. Pick the school that is right for you.
The amount of debt you incur through student loans will directly impact the quality of your life as a young adult. If you like two schools equally, or almost equally, pick the school that is the best value. There is a big difference between having $75,000 in debt and $150,000 in debt. You can get the full college experience at both of these colleges with great professors, great courses, and great people. Save your money; future you will be very happy you did when your friends are still paying off their student debt and you are debt free!
The professors at your school are going to be highly qualified, no matter what school you pick. Some of them will be awesome.
There is only one full time professor position for every 100+ doctorates awarded in our country per year. Because of this surplus of professors the profs at your school will all be highly qualified.
This means you will have some awesome professors and of course you’ll have awful ones too. The fantastic profs will inspire you and help you learn more than you thought possible.
Was this valuable to you? If you found this advice to be valuable, please share it with someone you think would like to read it. 🙂