Selecting the Right College for You

A college education can be very expensive. So you want to make sure that if you're going to invest such a large amount of money into your education you choose the right college or university for you. While it's a big decision it's also not the end of the world. According to a report released by the National Association for College Admission Counseling in 2010 1 in 3 students from four-year or two-year colleges will probably transfer at some point in their education. So when you feel like you're being crushed under the pressure of which school to pick; take a deep breath and remind yourself that even if you make the wrong decision you can always change your mind later and you won't be the only one doing it.

Things to consider when picking the college for you

Picking out the right college for you from the roughly 6,000 colleges or universities available is not always the easiest decision. It's very easy to get overwhelmed by all of the decisions you have to make during the college selection and application process. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to narrow down the list.

  • Do you want to be a bike ride, a car ride, or a plane ride away from home?
  • Do you meet the GPA and standardized test score requirements to get into the schools on your list?
  • Of the majors that you are considering are all of them offered at all of the schools on your list?
  • Do you want to go to a really big school where class sizes can by around 200 students or are you looking for smaller class sizes?

This list may not have you narrowed down to just one school but it may have narrowed your list down from about 50 options to 10. From here you can do even more digging and spend more time on each school's web site. Take virtual tours of the campus and talk to your friends to see if they know anyone who attends any of the schools you're considering.

Get the Most Out of Your Campus Tour

Once you're ready to actually step onto the campuses of the schools that you're considering, develop a plan that will allow you to visit all of the schools you're considering. You can learn a lot about a school by actually being there. Web sites and marketing materials a school sends out will show you the parts of the school that the marketing and admission teams want you to see. Go to the school and see all of the great parts of the school and the also see all of the not so great parts of the school too. Make your decision based on your own experience. Also make sure you ask your tour guide a lot of questions and if possible ask questions of students that you run into while on your tour. Tour guides often speak from a script that was written for them while other students will give you a more straightforward answer to your questions. Check out About.com and HowToGetIn.com for some additional campus tour advice.

Paying For College

Again it's no secret that the cost of a college education is incredibly high and shows no signs of coming down soon. Figuring out what you can afford for college is as important as figuring out what college or university culture is right for you. If you pick a college that is outside of what you can afford there's a higher likelihood that you will be paying for your college education long into your future. Take a look at this infographic that our friends at PrivateStudentLoans.com put together illustrating how people are currently paying for college. Remember it's never too early to start searching and applying for scholarships. There are many different types of scholarships to take advantage of, including drawings, scholarship contests, and academic/merit-based scholarships. The more scholarship money you can get the fewer dollars that have to come out of your pocket to pay for your education.