There is no doubting the value of pursuing higher education in this day and age. While there are certainly a number of professions that you can select from that don’t require you to earn a college degree of some kind, there are many more that do. Therefore, the odds are that if you plan to become a working professional of some sort, then you should set your sights on earning a degree.
Moreover, if the career path that you have in mind for yourself is rather technical and complex, then you might find yourself looking toward earning an advanced degree of some sort down the line. Because of this, you want to ensure that the education you do earn will set you up for success on such a path.
The fact of the matter is, though, that choosing a college isn’t always as easy as it sounds. This is especially true when you hope to specialize in something that requires a great deal of knowledge and skill. You need the degree program you opt for to provide you with the right knowledge and skills so that you can be successful.
There is also a bit of pressure associated with choosing the right college, a fact that can be tough to cope with from the young age of 18. The good news is that there are a few specific things that you can look for in a school in order to determine if it is going to be the right choice for you and your future.
With that in mind, if you are currently in the process of exploring your options with regard to the university that you are going to attend, here are six tips that can help you to choose the right school for you.
1. Consider All Formats
There was once a time when attending school at a university meant enrolling in a traditional four-year program and moving into accommodations on or near a campus so that you could attend classes in person. While this option is naturally still available and quite popular among students even today, it is important to know that this is not the only academic format available to you.
Rather, you can also choose to earn your degree online if you feel that such a format would work better for you. Furthermore, most of the major universities across the country offer online options for students looking to learn in this format. There are also hybrid programs available that would see you in the classroom for some of the time and learning online for the rest.
It is important to weigh the pros and cons associated with each option for your learning format. Some people simply learn better independently and at their own pace, making an online education from a school like Central Christian College of Kansas appealing. Others strive in the traditional format and choose to enroll in that sort of degree program.
Take the time to determine which option suits your learning style the best so that you can narrow down your search for the right university for you.
2. Consider the Cost
The next thing that you will want to consider is the cost factor. Even though there is so many other things that you would likely rather think about first, there is no sense in getting your heart set on a certain college only to find that the cost of tuition and living expenses far outstretches your projected budget.
The unfortunate truth is that the costs associated with attending college are only increasing with each passing year. Many argue that this is making higher education much less attainable for the majority of incoming students than ever before.
Have a real look at your finances before you start looking into specific universities so that you can avoid wasting time on those that simply want too much money for the education they offer.
3. Investigate Instructors
Once you have your list of universities that you are going to consider based on format and cost, it is time to start getting specific about the subject that you want to major in. You are likely looking at going to college for the purpose of pursuing a certain field of study. The quality of instructor that you learn from while attending college can really set the tone for how successful you become in that area of study.
Do your research into the instructors and professors employed at the universities you are considering. They should have their fair share of credentials available for you to explore online. There are also teacher review websites where former students can list their compliments or complaints about professors they have had at college. While it is important to take such reviews with a grain of salt, they can give you a good indication of what sort of professors a university employs.
4. Research Success Rates
Another aspect of the college you choose to attend that is incredibly important to research ahead of time is the success rate of former students. This is a particularly pertinent point if you are choosing to enter a field that will require you to attend graduate school after earning your undergraduate degree.
The competition to get into the top grad schools in the country can be tough. You want to ensure that the school where you will earn your undergraduate degree prepares students properly for the challenges ahead. The best indicator of that is their success rates when it comes to former students being accepted to graduate school.
If you are going to be pursuing a career in medicine, see if you can find out what sort of scores on the MCAT tend to be earned by graduates of a certain university. The same should go for those who plan to take the LSAT or GMAT. By choosing a school whose graduates score favorably on these tests, you can get a better sense of what sort of chances you yourself will have when taking your own exam down the line.
5. Location, Location, Location
As with most things in life, it is important to feel comfortable with where you are attending college with respect to the city and state in which the university you choose is located. You will find it difficult to succeed in your chosen area of study if you are not comfortable with where you are living.
It is important to remember that going “off to college” is a big deal in more ways than one. You aren’t just simply going to be taking your education to the next level and facing all of the challenges that come along with earning your degree; rather, you are also going to be experiencing independence with regard to your way of life.
Many students struggle in this area above all else. It can be overwhelming to move out of your family home and have to learn how to look after yourself. You might find this easier to cope with if you choose a school that is closer to where you call home, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that.
On the other hand, you might be eager and ready to live a more independent lifestyle and looking to create some distance between you and your hometown. If this is the case, then a school a bit farther out might be more ideal for you.
If it is also a good idea to bear in mind the fact that attending college in your home state will most likely be more affordable than going to school out of state. There are also some breaks in tuition for students going to college in a neighboring state. Anything that can save you some money when all is said and done is worth considering.
6. Schedule a Visit
You wouldn’t buy a new pair of jeans without trying them on first, so why would you enroll at a university without ever setting eyes on it in person? This is a big decision that you are about to make, so getting some firsthand insight into the schools you are considering is crucial.
Set aside some time in your schedule this year to take an in-person visit to the colleges on your shortlist. Most will even let prospective students stay a night or two on campus with current students in order to get a real feel for what it would be like to attend.
When you are visiting, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Make sure that you at least have a look at a standard dorm room if you intend to live on campus. You should also investigate the on-campus food options available to students.
If possible, sit in on a class in your potential field of study. You might even be able to have a quick chat with a professor to get a sense of what it might be like to study there. Any opportunity you have to gain more information about a school you are considering should be taken.