By Jessica Lyons
1. Do you really want to go to college?
It's frequently just assumed that once you graduate high school you'll go to college. But you shouldn't go just because it's expected. You should go because you genuinely want to continue your studies and because it's needed for your desired career.
2. What do you want to study?
Not every school offers every major, so before you start spending money on applications think about what you want to study. Then you can see which schools match your interests and avoid applying to ones that don't have the degree program you want.
3. How are you going to pay for college?
College isn't cheap, but there are multiple ways to fund your education, including scholarships, grants and loans. You need to plan how you'll be paying for college and may need to pick your school based on how you are funding your education. For instance, if you think you to need to take out loans, pick a cheaper college to keep your loan amounts down.
4. Where do you want to live?
Do you want to live at home, on-campus or in your own apartment? Your choice could influence your future school. Obviously if you want to live at home you have to apply to a school that's in commuting distance. If you plan on living on campus you better apply to a school with residence halls. Finally, if you want to get an apartment, look at locations with housing in your price range.
5. What size school are you comfortable with?
Schools come in all sizes, which is good news since it means no matter what size you're comfortable with you can find your best fit. Not everyone likes learning in a college with tens of thousands of students while others might not enjoy the experience at a school with only a few hundred.
6. Will you be working?
If you think you'll work while pursuing your degree, make sure you're somewhere with job opportunities for students. Another thing to consider is if you already have a job that you want to keep, since if that's the case you need to find a college nearby.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Communications and Journalism
- Computer Sciences
- Culinary Arts and Personal Services
- Liberal Arts and Humanities
- Mechanic and Repair Technologies
- Medical and Health Professions
- Physical Sciences
- Transportation and Distribution
- Visual and Performing Arts
7. Do you want to be close to friends and family?
Although moving away from home can give you a chance to experience something new, it also means being separated from friends and family. Before applying to a college on the opposite side of the country, make sure you're ready for the challenges that come with it.
8. Do you want to go to pursue an education or just party?
Many people tend to think of college as a 4-year party where students just drink and have a good time. But the reality is you'll spend a lot of time going to classes, studying and completing assignments. If partying is the only reason you want to go to college, you may want to reconsider.
9. Which city will provide the best learning experiences outside of the classroom?
Not all of your career preparation will happen inside of the classroom, so make sure your school is located where you'll have opportunities outside of the classroom. For instance, if you're a theater major, it's best to be in a city with a big performing arts community so you can get internships and learn from industry professionals.
10. Are you actually ready for college?
Even if you want to go to college, you still need to think seriously about if you're ready for the many challenges that come with it. Are you academically prepared or do you need to take some remedial classes first? Do you feel mature enough to handle all the responsibilities of being a college student? There's nothing wrong with admitting you need another year to prepare.
If you decide college isn't for you, you might want some tips for talking to others about your decision.