Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a School
There are many good reasons to continue your studies after high school. But choosing the perfect college may not exactly be an easy choice. Contrary to what most people believe, a big name does not guarantee a great college life.
Here are a few questions that can get you started on an introspective journey. Finding the answers to these questions, maybe even jotting down your answers will give you a sense of direction and clarity.
Am I ready for college?
Are you mentally and emotionally ready to begin college? Why are you going, simply because everybody else is doing so or because you really want to?
It's okay to take time off after high school or your undergraduate program, relax and refresh yourself before considering the next step. You may even want to use the time to volunteer, travel or work, all of which, even while they may not provide tangible benefits, can add great value and give you a fresh perspective on life. Another good article to read, Is Going Back to School Right for You? will help further determine if you're ready for a postsecondary education.
What do I eventually want to do?
Not everybody has a definitive answer to this question. Even if you do, chances are that you'll change your mind a few years or maybe even a few months down the line. But, at this point in time, what do you see yourself doing? Will the school you're considering allow you to do that?
Does it offer a wide range of majors and general education papers so that you can pick and choose? If you're clear about your future course, select a school that offers specialized courses; if, however, you think that you may change your mind, go for a school that is more generic in its curriculum.
What are my personal values?
This is more important a question than most people realize. Will the college agree with your personal values or will it go against the grain of your nature? For instance, entering a faith-based college could spell disaster for someone with a secular or anti-religious outlook and vice versa.
If you have very strong views, do choose a school that will accommodate your opinions. If you consider yourself somewhere in between, it's best to choose a school that's cosmopolitan in nature where you can meet people from different walks of life.
Does the social life on campus interest me?
Or, does the school even have a social life? Is there a good balance between academics and extracurricular activities? Are there clubs, sororities and fraternities that interest you? Will your talents come to the fore or will you have to shelve them? Are you likely to meet like-minded people or will you end up feeling like a misfit here?
Do I like the students here?
A college visit should be able to help clarify this question. Intuitively, you'd know if you're likely to be able to vibe with the students and if the general atmosphere is in keeping with your personality and character.
Will it get me where I want to be?
Does the school offer courses in the area of your interest? Do the faculty and curriculum excite you? Do you see yourself learning the subject matter week after week and month after month? Would you be better off in a college that is much more generic? What about the industry reputation of this school? Will graduating from here get you the kind of salary that you want?
What is my personal learning style?
Do you learn best in groups or on your own, through discussions or research, self-study or group study? Does the school practice your learning style? If it does not, do you think you will be able fit in to the learning style that is most prevalent on campus?
Can I afford it?
The question of money is best clarified by weighing the benefits of the return on investment. A school with a great reputation in the industry can justifiably cost you more. But if a lesser known school is charging you a heavy fee, you really need to figure out if the course is worth what you'll be earning later.
Does the location agree with me?
Some students want to get away from home, while others want to stay nearby. Which do you prefer? You may want to stay home or leave for personal reasons, but always weigh the practical side. You may be someone who is socially self-sufficient or you may need the warmth of familial support. Also, if your college is in a state that is too cold and your system simply can't handle cold weather, you really need to take that into consideration. If location, financial status or any other factor needs to be taken into consideration visit NCES.gov for further information in finding the right college for you.
What is my SWOT analysis?
What are my abilities and strengths? What are my weaknesses? Will this college help me make the best of my strengths and create new opportunities?
The final say:
Remember that college can either be a fulfilling experience or a miserable one. Having a few answers in hand will keep you steady when the going gets tough, as it most certainly will at some point of your college life.