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Choosing the Right College for You

If you're just beginning your college search, you may feel overwhelmed by all the information out there and not know where to start. But we've got your back!

High school students across the country are beginning their college search. But finding the right school for you can be a long process. There are so many factors ranging from location to scholarship money, majors, athletics, and everything in between. The most important thing is choosing a college that best suits your personality and one that will provide you with the college experience you are looking for. Be sure to stay true to you and do what will make you happy in the long run, regardless of what others are doing. Around this time of year students begin to feel pressure to narrow down their lists of potential schools, especially those who are juniors and seniors. They may be getting insight and input from a college advisor, teachers, parents, and friends. While their opinions certainly matter, it is important not to lose sight of what you want in a school or what you want to get out of the college experience. These are the steps to finding the right college fit for you.

Set realistic goals

Set realistic goals and stick to them, but don't be afraid to branch out. Apply to the schools at the top of your list. There is no harm in trying and exploring all of your options. However, it's important to have a back-up plan—there's no shame in having one! (Tip: apply to schools closer to home in case your initial plan does not pan out.) But it's also important to dream big and not limit yourself in your college search. If given the opportunity and financial aid, do not stray from your idea of an enjoyable college experience.

Related: The Art of Goal Setting for Students

Decide what type of student you want to be

Ask yourself: do I want to be “a big fish in a small pond” or “a small fish in a big pond”? School size is important to take into consideration when applying to college. Some students thrive at larger public universities. They enjoy the freedom it gives them and the opportunities to become involved in various clubs and organizations. Other students prefer smaller private universities with intimate classroom settings. These schools provide them with more one-on-one time with their professors and opportunities to lead on campus. This philosophy also applies to athletics. For those who dream of being a student-athlete, choose a school where you have the best chance to succeed both athletically and academically. (Tip: competing at the college level does not always mean Division I, II, III, or even NCAA sports. There are countless opportunities to participate in intramural and club sports at every university. Do not limit yourself or think of these as lesser opportunities.) Everyone has to find the right fit for them, so choose a setting that will make you the most comfortable.

Factor in your future career

Consider what you want to do in college and what career you want to pursue after college. What is the purpose of you attending a particular school? Does your top school offer your intended major? Are you applying for a specific program, or are you simply looking for a good overall education? These are all questions you should ask yourself when determining if you would fit in at a certain school. (Tip: it's also important to remember that you do not have to attend a "big name" school in order to make a name for yourself. College is only what you make of it.) Every school has something different to offer, so be open minded, and once again, explore all of your options.

Related: Top 10 Career Fields in America: What You Should Know

Account for your financial needs

Remember that financial aid plays a major role in choosing the college you will attend. You need to be realistic about the cost of college and if you are able to afford to go to a particular school. (Tip: jump on all scholarship opportunities. College is expensive, and every little bit counts toward your education. There are merit-based scholarships, company scholarships, athletic scholarships, etc. that can be used in combination with financial aid.) For aspiring student-athletes, keep in mind that most do not receive full scholarships. In fact, Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships at all. With that said, don't let the cost of college discourage you. Work hard now so you have less stress about choosing the right college later.

Choose a place you fit

Choose a place that you can see yourself spending the next four-plus years. The goal is not to simply go to college, but to leave with a degree. Don't settle to please others, and begin the college search process early so you can attend the college of your choice. This is your future, and it is what you make of it.

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About Eden Dorsey

Eden Dorsey is an aspiring journalist and plans to major in journalism and media studies in college. She hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism with an emphasis on sports. However, she also loves writing and plans to start a sports blog in the near future. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to write for CollegeXpress and share her experiences with others in regards to the college search.

 

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Jeff Parsons

Jeff Parsons

Counselor

Thank you so much for this valuable information about these opportunities. I truly appreciate the CollegeXpress communications and use them to keep my high school seniors informed about their opportunities!

Kayla

Kayla

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me organize the schools I wanted to choose from in one place, which I could then easily compare and find the school that was right for me!

Jessica Rinker

Jessica Rinker

Student, Fairhaven High School; CollegeXpress Student Writer

My high school counselor introduced me to CollegeXpress freshman year. It has made such a difference in high school, and I plan to continue relying on it in college. CollegeXpress is my go-to because it addresses each aspect of being a student. There are the articles you’d expect regarding college applications and financial aid, but you will also find advice on things like de-stressing and maintaining relationships while balancing a heavy course load. CollegeXpress will also keep you updated on current scholarships through e-mails each Saturday. (They don’t harass you with any product promotion like so many other sites do.) CollegeXpress is a lot like an older sibling who has already conquered the challenges you are facing. Now, they are reaching out a helpful hand. I say take it.

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Alexandra Adriano

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2016

I've used CollegeXpress quite a bit as a senior, particularly for colleges and scholarships, so it's been a very big asset in that respect! I would recommend it to anyone looking to pursue a college education, especially seniors! This scholarship will help me achieve my goals in ways I couldn't have before, and I know that there are opportunities like that for everyone on the website and in the magazines!

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Sierra Carranza

High School Class of 2022

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to school; I was considering colleges in almost every state. CollegeXpress was an amazing resource and helped me compare all of my top schools. Without the help of CollegeXpress, I probably wouldn't have made such an informed and confident decision.

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