No two colleges are the same, which means it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of picking the right one. Even if you decided to stay in-state, there are a variety of community colleges, private colleges, and state universities to choose from. To help you make the right decision, Eric Buschbacher explains what to look for and when to get started.
As a junior in high school, you should begin exploring majors and careers that interest you. Although you can start college as undeclared, Eric Buschbacher notes that it may hinder you from choosing the best college. Consider taking career assessment tests to get an idea of what direction you’d like to go, and then find colleges that offer programs in those areas.
Next, think about your preferred learning style. Do you enjoy long, informative lectures? Perhaps you like small class sizes and group work or find research to be extremely interesting. Eric Buschbacher recommends figuring out what type of learning environment you’re most likely to excel in, and use that knowledge as a guide when talking to college admissions counselors. Career services will also be an extremely valuable resource that will offer insight into professors, programs, tutoring services, and more.
Be sure to check the college’s GPA and test score requirements before spending money to apply. Eric Buschbacher suggests researching statistics on the last incoming class to see if you measure up. There are also Test Optional schools, which leaves the decision to the applicant if they want to report their SAT or ACT scores to the schools or not. This may be helpful for those applicants who are good students but don’t do well on the standardized tests. There are plenty of tools to help you succeed if you find that you’re not quite there yet . Many schools have a holistic approach when accepting a student. They look at more than a student’s grades so don’t lose hope. Think about getting involved in other activities and take on any leadership roles where you can.
Paying for college is a big concern for many students and parents. When considering colleges, Eric Buschbacher notes that it is very important to be realistic about your family’s finances and budget. Even if you have the opportunity to make a lot of money with your degree, it can be overwhelming if you find yourself buried in debt after graduation.
If you like a college that is out of your price range, consider looking into scholarships and financial aid packages. Determine the requirements for various grants and scholarships, and then do what you can to see if you can reach those requirements.
Now it’s time to tour some colleges on your list, both big and small. When you visit, try to imagine yourself studying and socializing there every day. Eric Buschbacher recommends meeting some students, grabbing lunch, and visiting the dorms to help you decide. If you like sports, check to see if they have stadiums and facilities on campus. Remember that every college has its own unique culture and vibe. You’ll know when one feels like home.
After taking the time to visit and paying attention to application deadlines, apply to the schools that stood out to you. Eric Buschbacher recommends keeping the cost of application fees in mind when deciding where to send your application. Most teens will apply to one or two dream schools in addition to a few more realistic schools that are in reach. It’s not necessary to apply to backup schools; however, Eric Buschbacher believes its best to apply to at least two to ensure admission.
Good luck in your journey and remember there is a school out there for everyone.
Originally published at https://ericbuschbacher.co on January 14, 2020.