Garfield Senior High School

Op-Ed: How to pick the right college

It’s the end of your senior year and, after a long wait, you have finally received the acceptances and rejections from all the universities you applied to. You have a variety of options and are torn between which one is right for you. There are many factors associated with choosing the perfect fit college for you, including affordability, student lifestyle, and housing.

Affordability must always be addressed for obvious reasons. One should not attend a college they cannot afford. Applying for financial aid doesn’t hurt, but it is key to remember loans must be paid back. Given the support of parents, financial aid, and the potential work-study, a student must be aware of the most reasonable options.

It may pay off to go to a smaller university that won’t amount to a greater amount of debt compared to a larger university. Everyone has a reason to further their education, but it’s highly unnecessary to have debt at the end of it.

They say that your college years will likely end up being the best years of your life, so another valuable component to consider in choosing a college is the overall lifestyle. Lifestyle is important, as you will most likely be living on campus or in the vicinity. If you like to party, find a campus where you can do so.

If you like learning and hate partying, then it’s probably best to steer clear of universities notorious for such behavior. If a size of the campus and the average student to faculty ratio is important to you, it is important to do some research beforehand.

Some universities offer college visits and fly-in programs for free. If not, then you can always schedule a visit if it’s not too far. Preferably, this would be at a time when the students are actively going about daily life. You may get a different feeling if you visit campus during the holidays, as students will most likely be away on break and the campus will seem empty. Visiting a college during the school year will best give you an experience of what student life is like.

Housing is an important factor to consider as well. Where will your dorm be, that is, if you dorm? How does it work? Can you choose a roommate or is there a pair matching survey? Are the dorms to your liking? These questions can be answered during a campus tour or virtual tour of the college. If there are plans to move out and rent an apartment, cruise around the neighborhood. Make sure it’s safe and you feel comfortable in the surrounding area all while keeping in mind the affordability of such accommodations.

Picking the right college is a balance of multiple things. It’s important to look for what you find most vital and make your choice. You can’t go wrong with anywhere you go. In the end, your future is based more on what you do in college rather than where you go. Wherever you go, congratulations and have fun!

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