Factors to consider when choosing a college
There are many factors to consider when choosing a college. Each, in a broad sense, has a personal implication for your college choice and decision making. That's why it is important to consider each of these, but to rank order the ones that are most important to you. By focusing on what is important to you, you'll be able to better sort the colleges you are interested in. This way you'll have a sound basis for applying to a college instead of a random thought or because someone thought it would be a good idea for you or a right fit for you. How can anyone know what is your right fit if they don't know what is important to you relative to all factors affecting the college choice decision process.
The factors to consider are:
Programs of study: this is the first area and should always receive the highest consideration. After all, this is why you are going to college. Also to consider are special programs of interest (i.e. honors programs, study abroad, ROTC, internships) that are academic in nature.
Type of college: colleges come in several flavors (i.e. research institutions, learning institutions, undergraduate only, community college, public vs. private vs. for profit, religiously affiliated, single gender). You should explore each option that is of interest to you and rule out those that don't fit your desires.
Selectivity: this is a measure of how hard it is to get into a college. Do your grades and test scores match up with the current student body? If your academic background, minus any extraordinary circumstances, does not put you ahead of 50% of the student body, you are likely looking at a college that is out of your reach.
Location: this is in terms of proximity to home and climatic. Do you want to be far away or close to home? Near the beach, in a city, in the country, or somewhere in between? The choice has an affect on what you will be doing in your spare time, how you'll get to classes, and how often you can come home or parents and friends can visit.
Size of campus: do you want large or small classes? Lots of students with lots to do, or more focused study and intimate relationships with students across campus? Size does matter in terms of what is offered in and out of the classroom.
Campus Life: what other activities are important to you (i.e. sports, clubs, Greek life, campus based or off campus based social life)? The choices are almost unending.
Support Services: what kind of help do you think you'll need? From tutoring to health to transportation to career guidance. All of these are services that the college offers to help you be successful academically, socially and after college.
Cost: what can you and your family reasonably afford? Will you qualify for financial aid? Do have the grades or skills to earn a scholarship? Don't forget other costs such as books, food, travel to and from home to college, fees, and other expenditures. (paying for college will be covered at a later time in future entries)