When you’re nearing the road towards your senior high school graduation, this means that you’ll be faced with so many decisions you’ll have to make. For starters, there’s the degree you’ll have to choose. Along with that, you also have to decide on the university or college where you’ll be completing your chosen degree.
When this is the foundation of the future right ahead of you, it’s crucial to make the right choice. It’s safe to say that you’ve got to be very thorough about your research process to ensure that you truly end up in the college that’s the best for you.
As easy as this choice may seem, however, you’ll be bombarded with so many options. Family members and relatives will have their own opinions, you’ve got your own choices, and there’s also the schools your friends are going to. There are also the hundreds of ads and flyers you’re going to receive from different schools, convincing you that they’re the best school ever!
When deciding on the right college, there are many tips when choosing to consider. Some of these are guidelines for finding the best possible education, and others are just basic ideas that you can apply, depending on your preferences and degree choice.
That said, here are some of the most important things to consider when choosing from among different colleges or universities:
1. Campus Location
Location is also a very important factor. First, there’s the area of the university pertaining to how far it’s going to be from home. There are those who have no problem with traveling far for college, some even overseas. But, you might also be one of those who prefer to be a few hours’ drive away. If you’re interested in pursuing an online Christian counseling degree, you have the advantage of studying from anywhere. Online programs provide flexibility, allowing you to access quality education without being tied to a specific physical location. This is a convenient option for students who want to balance their studies with their faith, giving them the freedom to choose their academic path while staying connected to their religious values.
While going to the university is like your first taste of freedom away from your sheltered home, this doesn’t mean that you should choose an institution that’s miles away. Consider your preferences, so you won’t be miserable and miss your family too much.
Second, consider the specifics of the location. Is the college near the city center? Is it known to be a safe area? Are there dormitories and apartments nearby? These are factors that are very important, as they’ll affect the smooth flow of your days in college. You wouldn’t want to have to commute back and forth so far, particularly on long days in college when classes finish late.
Furthermore, you may want to answer the following questions:
- Can you afford the regular expenses of traveling back and forth home during the holidays?
- Is the campus close to all of the other community facilities you wish to have, like libraries, grocery stores, and a hospital?
- How often can your parents travel to visit you?
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2. Proper Accreditation
The last thing you’ll want is to study in an institution that isn’t accredited. Imagine having a diploma from a school that isn’t acknowledged by the government. You’ve only just wasted four years of your life and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At the very least, you have to ensure that the schools you’re looking at are all accredited by local authorities. There are official organizations tasked to review each of the curriculum offered in every course, to verify that it meets all of the set academic requirements for higher education.
Generally, a reputable institution will have proof of these accreditation documents on their website, on the Admissions or About Us section.
Why does choosing an accredited school even matter? Here are the top reasons:
- It ensures academic quality.
- It may affect your eligibility for federal student loans, as studying in accredited schools is often required.
- It checks that all of the faculty are qualified and licensed professors.
As you go through your options, these are the most important accreditation types you should check for:
- Institutional – National. This is needed by colleges that offer a specific type of education, such as technical, vocational, and regional schools.
- Institutional – Regional. This is the type of accreditation to prove that the school has met quality standards through a peer-review process completed by an independent agency.
3. Availability of Student Loans
Of course, another important factor to consider is whether or not the school you’re going to has the availability of student loans. This is generally an important part of your university education, as most students will need a loan to finish their education.
However, not all institutions are accredited for student loans. If this is the case, then it may only make it even more difficult for you to complete your degree. If a student loan is what you need to become a degree-holder, then put weight on this as you narrow down your options.
Typically, the heaviest loan amount is on your first year in school. Then, as you slowly complete your education, you’ll find that your student loan debt also begins to decrease significantly. Here are other insightful tips to pay off your student loans fast:
- Make additional payments. Most university students will also take in part-time jobs during their free time. So, if you’ve got extra cash to make extra payments towards your loan, don’t just settle for the minimum amount. Make additional payments whenever you can, so you can finish paying off your debt fast.
- Have a part-time job. As much as you’ll want to spend all the extra hours lingering around and socializing with friends, your time in college is also your training ground for the real world out there. Hence, during your free time, it’s best to find a part-time job. Not only can this help you pay off your student loan, but it also gives you extra cash when you need it. You do have to learn to balance your time between long hours of research, and studying, having fun, and working.
4. Availability of Scholarships and Grants
This tip applies to those students who are graduating from senior college on an honors program or perhaps are members of the athletics varsity team. If you belong to either of these groups of students, you’re also a good candidate for an academic grant or scholarship.
Don’t waste the possibility of being eligible for these grants and scholarships. Spend more time researching these programs as you go through the possible colleges. Remember that these aren’t freebies handed out to just anyone. They’re opportunities offered to people who are willing to work hard for their degrees.
Typically, the availability of these scholarships can be found on the website of different schools. It’s important to familiarize yourself with your options.
5. Academic Majors Available
Not all universities or colleges also have the same program offerings. You have to ensure that you’re choosing one that has your desired course.
When you’re applying for college, you’ll generally be asked for three course options. This is how you should narrow down your options of colleges, as well. Double-check to see if they’re offering the course you wish to take up. When you have your list of schools that have these offers, that’s when you can also compare each option.
Surely, there are colleges on your list that are more well-known for a particular degree than others. Take your research deeper by going through their subjects and course programs. This can give you a very good insight as to whether or not your chosen college is in line with your dreams.
6. Class Size
Class size is another significant factor of quality education. For instance, if the student-to-teacher ratio is unrealistic, then this can impact your ability to learn well. This means that the teacher may not be able to give their full attention to all students, given the unmanageable class sizes.
As to personal preference, there are some students who also prefer smaller colleges with smaller class size. Meanwhile, others may prefer the opposite. Some are better learners and are more comfortable with a smaller group of peers. Correlating to this is also the number of students.
If you came from a senior high school where you’ve been so used to a smaller population of students, going to a big population college might overwhelm the introverts. Don’t fret as there are smaller schools that are just as good as the bigger ones.
7. On-Campus Facilities and Amenities
College life is more than just the academic aspect to it. There are naturally after-school activities that can help you enjoy your time there and have a more well-rounded student life.
It’s a bonus if the school you’re opting for has good on-campus facilities and amenities. After all, you’re going to spend so much time in-campus, so you’ll want to have the best time while you’re there.
Some of the most common facilities and amenities that can help enhance your learning ability are the following:
- Gym, so you can work out anytime, for no added cost.
- In-campus student housing, if you prefer to live within the campus.
- Dining halls and cafeterias, especially if you’re not the type who likes to cook for yourself.
- Study center and library, for those long hours of research.
- On-site services, like a health check, dietician, and counselor, among others.
Your chosen university is a very big leap that’ll affect your future. So, it’s only but fitting that this decision isn’t one to be taken lightly. It’s not enough for you to simply rush through the choice as a last-minute thing or to just go with the flow. You’ve got to weigh all of your possible options according to your preferences and needs. This list is an insightful guideline to help you narrow your choices.