Choose the best college for you

Choosing which college to attend is always a tricky and sometimes unpleasant experience for us. Not only are we dealing with the prospect of leaving our friends and school and familiar people behind, but the realisation of leaving the house you grew up in, the parents who looked after you, the pets who comforted you and the washing, cleaning, cooking that you once escaped the responsibility of is now going to be firmly and resolutely thrown in your care.

There are some points that need to be remembered when you are deciding and choosing your next destination.

1. Breaking free.
Yes it is hard to separate from your best friends and the people who made you laugh and cry but in equal measure. You may find that the friend you knew your whole life is going to turn their back on you and move to the other side of the country, all for their education. You may question their choice, but the truth is they are doing what’s best for their future. And you should do the same.

2. Finding the best fit.
While it is important to pick the best institution for your academic and educational needs, you also need to find a place that you feel comfortable and settled in. If you enjoy home comforts perhaps staying closer to home is not such a bad idea. If you stay in the central belt of the US you may want experience the coast, and so try one of the Colleges in Santa Barbara. If you live on the coast you may want to try Texas, or maybe the Rocky Mts of Colorado or Montana. Do your research of the areas you want to potentially go to. Take a day and explore the colleges, schools and general neighbourhoods of your choices. You may be here for 3-4 years so make sure it is a place that fits your personality and character.

3. Do your research.
Okay, so checking out the general geographic area of your college is only one of the pieces of research you should do. Once you have narrowed down your selection do a thorough check of the courses, schools, even lecturers on offer. Remember that at college it is left to the individual lecturers and tutors to decide the specific syllabus, and so there interests and background need to be a good fit for yours. Check the university website and do a thorough browse of the staff involved. Even get in touch if you are at all confused.

4. Finances
This is the part no one likes to think about but can prove decisively important. Do you want to shell out thousands and thousands of pounds to an established, old or traditional college whose reputation far exceeds that of polytechnic centres, or alternately go for a polytechnic that is perhaps not as prestigious but offers a good level of education or is more tailored to your interests, and less of a strain on the finances? There is no definitive answer to this question. Weighing up the pros and cons outlined above and considering ‘value for money’ are all important.

It is not an easy choice deciding which college or university is regarded as a best fit. Seek the help of your careers counsellor at school, ask your parents for an objective assessment of your choices and turn to people who have been there by searching through blogs and forums on the subject. One last point is to make sure you have a backup choice in place, in case your first choice is full or cannot accommodate your place.

This guest article was written by Edward McMountains

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