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: How to Master the Art of Setting and Refining Your Goals

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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Brooke Maggio

Brooke Maggio

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously in my college search in narrowing down the schools I’m interested in. Using the college search tool, I was able to narrow down my choices to schools that matched what I was looking for. I also used CollegeXpress for their scholarship search, which helped me find scholarships that I meet the requirements of.

Melanie Kajy

Melanie Kajy

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously during my senior year of high school. I started off using the college search to find more information about the universities I was interested in. Just this tool alone gave me so much information about a particular school. It was my one-stop shop to learn about college. I was able to find information about college tuition, school rank, majors, and so much more that I can't list it all. The college search tool has helped me narrow down which college I want to attend, and it made a stressful process surprisingly not so stressful. I then moved to the scholarship search tool to find scholarships to apply for because I can't afford to pay for tuition myself. The search tool helped me find scholarships that I was eligible for. The tool gave me all the information I could ever need about a particular scholarship that was being offered. The CollegeXpress scholarship search tool is so much better than other tools offered, like the Chegg scholarship search. Thanks to CollegeXpress, I was able to apply to tons of scholarships in a relatively easy way!

Damian Rangel

Damian Rangel

September 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me tackle college expenses, which will allow me to put more of my time and effort into my studies without the need of worrying as much about finances.

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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Amelia

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress helped open me up to many colleges that fit my interests. I’m only a sophomore in high school, so I like having a lot to look at, and CX does a great job of picking colleges that meet my wants. It's a great website that I'll continue to use until it comes time for me to apply for colleges. I also like that it notifies me through email with options to look at. Thanks CX!

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