One of the biggest decisions you make includes looking for a college. This is where you will spend years of your life studying and creating a life yourself, so it’s easy to get stressed at the decision. There are over 5,000 universities in the United States, and it is overwhelming trying to narrow that list down.
This list will give you a few ways of narrowing the list and will hopefully help take away some of that stress of college searches!
1. States you are comfortable moving to
When I was looking for a university to apply to, the first thing I did was go through the states where my family lived. This helped me feel comfortable applying in these places because it meant someone was there if something happened.
There are a few other things to think about when thinking of location. Where do you want to live? What kind of place?
If you live in a small town, maybe you want to experience city life, even if that city isn’t that big. Or, maybe you have lived in hot southern states and want to experience cold winters during your university life.
There are so many different things that can affect this decision.
2. Majors and Minors you are interested in
When you are picking your major and minor, or just major, what is something that has always caught your attention?
Maybe you are interested in a certain degree because it will make you money in the future, or you want to pursue something you have loved your entire life.
During my first semester at college, I decided I wanted to major in Journalism and minor in Creative Writing, which specified my classes to the point that my classes have been extremely enjoyable and made it fun to come to class.
The ACT website has a list of different degrees you can look into. These lists include agriculture, architecture, area, arts, business, communications, community, family, computer sciences, and many more. This list is long and has so many options for you to choose from.
You can look through this list and research the topics that make you happy.
3. Universities your credits will transfer to
This is important if some credits from your high school or current college don’t transfer because you may have to retake classes when it doesn’t.
One way to find out if your credits don’t transfer is by contracting the target school’s enrollment office, and they will be able to help you go through your credits. Your advisor at your current school should also be able to help you determine whether your credits transfer or not and what steps to take.
4. How close university is to you
This one can tie into the first tip quite a bit. If you are staying at home, you may want to know how close college is to where you are staying. For example, I never lived on campus. At first, it was a 23-minute drive; now, my drive is over 40 minutes long. This may not be something everyone can do, or you may have a longer drive.
There is the opportunity to find colleges that are closer if you do not want to make the drive, or if you like the university enough, then that drive may not be a problem. Just have an amazing driving playlist, and you should get through it. I used to listen to audiobooks of books for class on my drive.
5. The type of college
There are many different types of colleges out there. The best way to decide on the type of college is by researching each and seeing which one suits your needs best.
Public and Private Colleges: Public colleges are cheaper and are funded by the government, making tuition lower. Private colleges rely more on tuition and donations.
For-profit colleges: This means that the college’s profits are distributed amongst the institution’s owners, investors, and shareholders.
For-year and two-year colleges: Four-year colleges are schools where you go to get a four-year program that results in a bachelor’s degree. Two-year colleges have two-year programs where you can get a certificate or an associate’s degree.
Liberal arts colleges: These colleges include studies of literature, writing, history, philosophy, and more.
Universities: These are usually larger, and they offer more majors and degree options. Universities have smaller colleges, which can prepare you for various careers or graduate studies.
Colleges with a special focus: These colleges include specific interests or student populations. This includes arts, single-sex, religiously affiliated colleges, and specialized-mission colleges.
6. College affordability
This is a big step in deciding where to go to school. To figure out the costs of college, it is a good idea to go through the total cost, which can include tuition, fees, and room and board.
Student data from 2021-22 shows the average cost for public two-year college as $13,130. This lists tuition and fees at $3,800; the remaining $9,330 is for room and board.
The same student date lists a public four-year college as $22,690. This lists tuition and fees at $10,740; the remaining $11,950 is for room and board.
A price four-year college has a total cost of $51,690. This is $38,070 under tuition and fees; the remaining $13,620 is for room and board.
To get a more accurate price for tuition and fees, you can look up a net price calculator by specifying your school. I looked up “Uab Net Price Calculator” for my school and filled it out, giving me an almost accurate cost per semester. It was more expensive because I chose on-campus for the calculation, even though I live off campus.
Sometimes, schools also have detailed tuition and fees listed under the cost and aid sections of the website. My university lists its detailed tuition and fees for undergraduates and graduates and has its institutional fees listed. It’s important to note that every university is different. If you can’t find something on the university website, try calling or searching for something online.
Another important thing to consider is if your university offers any scholarships or if there are any you can apply to. The student aid website is under “How do I find scholarships.” This has detailed information on looking for scholarships and some good places to check.
I know how stressful it is to search for a college, and that’s a big decision. I hope this list helps, even if it is just a little bit. What matters, in the end, is that you are happy with your decision, and you can see yourself having a positive college experience wherever you decide.
Do you have any tips, not on this list? If so, let us know in the comments below!