As a homeschooler, the prospect of choosing a college can seem sort of daunting. Without a large community of peers who are also looking into colleges, one has to be more independent as far as research goes.
I just made my final decision on where I will be attending next year, and here are some tips that I found helpful:
1. Understand the Importance
Understand the actual importance of your decision.
College is a big deal, and where you decide to go will definitely impact you in a lot of ways. However, if there’s one thing I learned during the college search process, it’s that there are many places that I could have chosen and liked. The idea of finding the one perfect college isn’t really accurate and just causes too much stress.
2. Decide the Non-Negotiables
Decide what is the most important, non-negotiable characteristic of where you want to go to school.
For me, it had to be a Catholic school. For others, it might be a place close to home or where they can play their favorite sports. Decide what is most important to you, and it will make your search much more focused.
3. Involve Your Parents
Discuss your options with your parents. Your parents know you better than anyone else. They know how you learn best and what kind of environments cause you to thrive. Ask them about their college experiences and see what advice they have to give.
Parents can also be of assistance when it comes to planning the financial aspects of things, such as comparing tuition and housing prices at various schools.
4. Check out Scholarships
Starting to like a school? Check out the scholarship page. Paying the $100,000+ it can take for a college education is going to be close to impossible without aid or loans. Many private schools (but not all) are generous with scholarships.
Be sure to thoroughly research the institutional aid and work study opportunities available before you get too excited.
5. Know Your Major
Know what you want to do, then pick a school. Not knowing what you want to major in makes the college search pretty difficult. For example, most hardcore Catholic schools offer only liberal arts degrees.
As a nursing major, I had to rule out many places, which made wading through the stacks of informational pamphlets much easier.
That being said, don’t rush into a decision and choose a school with only a few major options just so you can meet the application deadline. If you know that you want a college education, but really can’t decide what you want to do, then choose a school with a lot of major options and take prerequisites first.
6. Ask questions.
Your admissions counselors are paid to help you. Take advantage of them. Ask them any questions you have about the school, whether it be about the application process, any major or program, or student life. Often, admissions counselors attended the school where they work and would be more than happy to share their own experiences at the school.
As a side note, the way the staff at a school treats you can be indicative of the overall atmosphere of the school and its commitment to excellence or lack thereof.
No matter what you do, the process of choosing a school will be stressful. However, the sense of peace that comes with knowing that you carefully selected where you will be spending the next four years makes a diligent search worth the effort.