So You Got Into College…What Next?
This is an exciting time for a lot of you! You’ve likely received decision letters from all the schools you applied to, so now the ball is back in your court. As you gear up to make your final selection in the next couple weeks, here are some things you should be thinking about:
Cost. With College Money Insider being a financial blog first and foremost, we’d be remiss if we didn’t start by mentioning cost. College can be a very expensive investment, so it’s vital that you get the most bang for your buck. For example, if you’re thinking about getting into a profession that traditionally doesn’t pay very well, then it might not make sense to attend a very expensive college and to accumulate a lot of debt. We’re not saying you should base your school decision exclusively on cost, as there are ways to manage the financial burden of college. However, cost should definitely play a role when schools are close on your list. Some trends to look out for: private schools are often more expensive than public schools, and out-of-state schools often cost more than in-state schools. Also, be aware of net price of attending college (the full cost minus your grants and scholarships) rather than the sticker price, as the net price is a more accurate estimation of what you will actually be paying.
Field of study. Many students focus on overall rankings, but it might be even more important to see how a school measures up in the field(s) you are interested in pursuing. Even the most highly-touted schools can be weak in certain areas of study, so it’s up to you to do your research. We strongly suggest that you check out your preferred department(s) at various schools and meet with some of their professors and/or advisers so you can get a feel for what they have to offer. You might even be able to set up a time to sit in on a class.
Size/location. It’s really easy to fall in love with the idea of a school based on its size and location, but you should also try to understand the implications of that idea. For example, if you’re coming from a small town, it might sound really intriguing to spread your wings and go to a school in a huge city. City-living can provide a great deal of benefits (fast-paced environment, diverse people, lots of stores/restaurants), but these can also be viewed as drawbacks (chaotic environment, eccentric people, little to no green space), depending on the person. Before you make a decision, take time to think about how you would fit in with a particular school’s environment.
Gut instinct. After weighing all the different options in your head and assessing the pros and cons of each school, don’t be afraid to trust your gut instinct. Even if you don’t quite understand it, there’s probably a good reason that your heart is tugging you in a certain direction. One thing that can really influence your gut feeling is visiting a school’s campus. A college might look good on paper, but seeing a school for yourself will really go a long way in determining your comfort level.
What other criteria do you have that’s influencing your college decision? Let us know in the comments!