A guide to choosing your perfect college

Are you moving on to college soon and need some help choosing the perfect one for you? You aren’t alone!

Going to college can feel concerning and intimidating if you know what you want to do with your life, but you aren’t sure how to go about it. There are so many colleges to choose from, and with so many courses and campuses listed online, it can be tricky to select the option that may be the right fit for not only your future but your personality and even your learning style.

Remember, a high-flying college like Harvard may be ideal for one person, but a smaller, liberal arts college may be the perfect fit for someone else. Also, as obvious as it sounds, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ college. So, you should be looking for the college that is perfect for you about location, cost, and, of course, the area you want to study.

This can still be intimidating so, in this article we will walk you through a simple checklist to help you identify and attend the perfect college for you.

How to begin looking for the right college for you

Before narrowing down the ideal college, how do you start the search? Let’s find out how you can begin looking for the right college for you.

Be honest about your marks and GPA

OK, the start to the perfect for you begins with you taking an honest look at yourself. Many people are told to aim for colleges such as Harvard and Princeton, but the reality is that not everybody can meet the GPA requirements to get into these institutions, and that’s OK.

So, this is the time to get advice from a school counselor or teacher about starting to look for the right college for you. They will be more aware than you are of your learning style and will be able to assess the best fit for you, in relation to your educational goals and abilities.

Of course, if you do want to go to a high-flying school, you can find the Harvard GPA requirements at campusreel.org, but be sure that this is what you want and is not what you have been told to want. 

Make a mind map/ wish list

You should also look further than just the GPA requirements when starting to look for a college: what is it that you want in your future college? You should make a list of the ideal locations if you are looking to move away from home, as well as extracurricular activities.

You could also make a list of the majors that you would be interested in, and match based on this. If you want to be a graphics designer, there is little to no point in choosing a law college! This will help you to better understand what it is that you’re looking for.

Go to college fairs

You will be able to get a lot of information about the different colleges in your area by attending a college fair. These are simply where colleges set up booths and allow you to meet college representatives.

These individuals can talk to you and answer your questions about the colleges and will also sign you up for college mailing lists, helping you see a wider range of options. So, it is worth making sure you have at least a couple of days on your calendar before making a decision!

How to choose the right college

After you’ve visited the college fairs and had a look at the GPAs, it is now time to look into putting it all together to choose the perfect college for you.

As mentioned earlier, you should make a mind map of what it is that you are looking for in a college, but when it comes to putting that mind map into action, what should be included in your narrowing down search?

Be active in your search

Every single college has deadlines for applications, visits, and even staying in college accommodation to see how you feel. One thing you should not do is procrastinate and put this off. The deadlines will vary depending on the college, but most of them are usually due by January for the fall admission.

You should get started on your application process by the start of your senior year in high school and then plan time for plenty of college visits. You should also be looking into standardized testing, writing essays as well as seeking letters of recommendation. So, try to be active in your search and don’t put everything off until the last minute, or you may end up with a poorly fitting college!

Look into college rankings

There is a lot of emphasis put on students about looking into college rankings and there is a good reason for it! However, if you are looking to study a set area such as law or psychology, then you will want to focus on the schools and institutions that are ranked higher in this particular area.

A college or university may have higher rankings overall but if these do not reflect the subject that you are looking to study, then there is little to no point in attending. Having an absolutely crystal-clear idea about what you want to study and then assessing the college for rankings in that area should be a key step to choosing your ideal college and, it will also make any further applications you make after college look better.

Build your job connections

The key reason that you are going to be attending college is to set yourself up with the job that you want. So, you should also consider each college’s career center when you are selecting the perfect college. How do you do this? Well, you can ask questions about job fairs during the on-campus interview and even when you are attending college fairs.

Just make sure that you choose a college that has a career center with a variety of services that will help you develop the soft skills needed for employment, such as conducting mock interviews and explaining how to get the job that you want when you graduate. Many colleges also offer internship-based programs to students, which will be worth its weight in golf when you are looking for a job after you have thrown the mortarboard in the air!

Be honest with yourself

This should be a given, but it is the backdrop of many teen movies for a reason! Is one of your parents pressuring you to go to a college that you don’t want to go to? Or are they pushing you to go into an area of work that you have no interest in? You need to be completely honest and open with yourself when you are looking for the perfect college for you and stick to your guns. 

Don’t give in to peer pressure from family or friends! Of course, if you happen to be going to the same college as one of your friends by choice, that’s great but don’t let other people determine this huge step in life for you. Be honest with what you want to do, and everything should fall into place naturally. If you want to ask family and friends for advice, then do but don’t take their words of advice as being set in stone. This is your education and the choice of where you go should be yours alone.

Don’t let rejection get you down

You’ve sent out the applications, you attended the interview and you feel that you nailed it! It’s a great feeling. However, a few months go by and you find out that your top-choice college has not accepted you. This is why it is crucial to have a Plan B in place!

As hard as it is, try not to dwell on the rejection. In many cases this is simply due to you not being a good fit or, as is becoming more common, it can indicate a higher quality of candidates for that precious college position. Some colleges are extremely selective, with their acceptance rates in the single digits, so try not to take it personally. Move on to your next choice college and chalk it up to experience!

If you have been rejected from multiple colleges, then it may be time to sit down with a family member or teacher and try to figure out what is going on!

Look at the tuition price

As unsavory as it may feel, you are going to have to look at the tuition prices and aim to choose a college that fits in with what you, your family, or a scholarship can realistically afford. There is no point in applying for a place at a college that you will never be able to attend due to it being out of your financial budget.

Of course, if you are finding that you are struggling to cover basic tuition costs, you should talk to your teacher and the college itself as they may have options to help you afford your college tuition, which will not leave you bankrupt in the future. Many colleges offer bursaries and programs to help students who were not born with a silver spoon in their mouth to reach their potential. 

Find the right fit for you

So, there you have it! All in all, choosing the right college is all about finding the right fit for you and ensuring that the degree course can set you up for the future that you want and deserve. Remember to ask for help from teachers and college representatives and soon enough, it will be your first day at your dream college! Be patient and good luck!