One of the biggest decisions a student can make in their educational journey is what colleges to apply to. There are many factors that weigh into this decision-making process, and numerous considerations that should be made. Consulting with a college admissions coach can help you narrow down your choices and prioritize the schools that best fit your future goals; however, ultimately, the decision is all yours to make. Let’s check out a few suggestions on how to prioritize your college choices, and what you should keep in mind while sorting through potential schools.
In regard to choosing your ideal college, an important consideration includes analyzing the academic aspects of that specific school. There are a couple of parts to this.
First and foremost, if you have a firm grasp of what degree you would like to pursue, or an ideal career that you would like your education to equip you for, it is essential to ensure that any colleges you are considering have those specific program(s). Choosing a school simply for the name or the reputation, while settling for a mediocre or subpar degree program can result in an overwhelmingly unsatisfactory university experience, which may even affect your academic success. Deciding where you will continue your education has a direct impact on how much you can and will achieve. It is for this reason that understanding your intentions and prioritizing your goals are essential.
While it has already been stated that college choices should not be made solely for the name or the reputation of the school, it is important to keep these in mind. When given the choice between hiring someone with a degree from a well-known university that has a track record of accepting high-performing students, versus hiring someone with a degree from a smaller, local school that may have the same standards but it not as familiar, many employers may be prone to the applicant that has the more impressive academic appearance, even if it is not indicative of work ethic or qualifications. Simply looking good on paper by attending a big-name university does not guarantee more success in the career field, or a higher level of intelligence, however. This being said, if a prestigious institution is within your academic reach, it may be beneficial to prioritize applying there. In either case, using your time at any university to expand your knowledge in a field of study, conduct meaningful research, gain experience through internships, and flourish in leadership positions is the key to eventual career success. In the end, a person who merely went to an Ivy League school but did not flourish while there versus the student from a state university who took advantage of the experience is a clear choice for any employer. It isn’t where you go but what you did while there that truly matters.
Another important consideration when choosing which colleges to apply to involves extracurricular activities. While your educational career is typically centered around your academics, there is a lot more to the college experience than attending classes. If you are involved with a specific sport and would like to continue to play that sport while you further your education, you may want to prioritize schools that have that particular program available. If you play an instrument and have set a goal of being involved with a university band, keep this in mind as you browse through your school options. If there are clubs, sorority or fraternity chapters, organizations, or any other extracurricular activity that you believe to be essential to your success and satisfaction at college, it is important to keep that as a priority in your application decisions.
One more aspect to keep in mind when you are prioritizing your college choices is the location of the schools. While some students may not have a preference where their university is, for others, the location can make or break their decision. Not only is it important to choose a college where you believe you will succeed, it is important to choose one that you will enjoy as well. Do you want to be located near family and friends, or would you like to embark on an adventure somewhere far from home? Do you want to enjoy your weekends on the beach, or do you want to be within walking distance of downtown? While your classes and extracurriculars take up most of the time spent at college, it’s essential to pick an area where you feel comfortable and you can thrive not only as a student, but as an individual.
Prioritizing the college you want to apply to can be overwhelming and exciting. Furthering your education is a big step to take, and we want to ensure that you are fully equipped to Cultivate your best academic experience. Connect with our college admissions coaches to discuss your next steps in the application process, and set yourself up for success.