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Decision Anxiety: How To Choose The Right College for You

Do you feel stressed, frustrated or nervous in deciding what college to attend? This can be a daunting task, but if you plan ahead, you'll have a greater chance of choosing a college that fits your needs and interests. The following steps can help relieve anxiety during the college decision process.

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Make a List

Create a list starting with the things that your college must have down to things you're willing to compromise. Do you prefer a small college versus a larger college with over 30,000 students? Are you looking for a faith-based college or a renowned school in business or engineering? Do you prefer smaller class sizes over lecture halls with more than 300 students? Should your college have sports or performing arts opportunities? Remember, you'll be attending this college for about four years; it's important to choose a school that fits your preferences and expectations.

Visit Different Colleges

It's very important to visit different colleges, even those that might not interest you at first. Make sure to sign up for all or most of the college visits offered by your high school. You can see college campuses firsthand, and you'll get a feel for dorms, student life, and any extracurricular activities offered. In addition, create a list of questions to ask the representative or tour guide during your college visit.

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Figure Out Expenses

Figure out how much it costs to go to the colleges of your choice. Think about living expenses - will you be living at home or in dorms? Other financial information, like the cost of tuition, fees, and meal plans, can either be provided by your high school counselor or a college's website (look under admissions or finances). You can also contact a college representative for more detailed information.

Your Major

Find out if the colleges you're exploring have strong departments for your intended major. This may not matter as much if you're undecided, but you can still find out which majors are offered, or even which majors are most popular.

Application Deadlines

Filling out college applications can be tedious and frustrating. Be aware of application deadlines for each college that interests you, and give yourself enough time to fill out each application carefully. Your high school counselor should be able to assist you in this process.

The Final Decision

If you are not accepted to your top college of choice, don't take it personally. Remember, student selection for most colleges is very competitive. Having a few back-up options ensures you can still attend a school that meets your needs should your first choice fall through.

More reason not to fret about where you got accepted: it's often out of your control! Read what the Grinnell dean of undergraduate admissions has to say on the subject.

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