Deciding which colleges to apply to this fall, Part 2: Top 5 Best Reasons to Choose a College

Post By: COYD Staff

1. Academic fit

Compare your academic profile to the university’s academic profile. You can do a basic evaluation on the College Board’s website. For more detailed information, visit the University’s website and/or call the admissions office for more detailed information. You don’t want to attend a college that is too easy for you academically nor do you want to attend one that is too difficult for you. In addition, you want to know if this college even offers the academic curriculum that you want to study and see if it excels in that area of interest. Ask your high school counselor for additional advice.

2. Career goals fit

Let’s say you want to be a journalist, you want to make sure the college you apply to has a hands-on journalism program? When I mean program, I don’t just mean classes that fulfill credits for a major. Are there opportunities where you can “train” to be a journalist like writing for the school newspaper? Is there a school radio station? Does the school have a local broadcast station?

Are there notable alumni in your field of interest and are they accessible? Does the university have a good alumni program? As you know, getting a job after college is difficult and the best way to get a good job in your area of interest is through networking. The best networking is within your alumni network. Do not overlook a university’s alumni network when choosing a college.

3. Location fit

Does the university’s location fit your career goals? A lot of the times, companies recruit students from nearby colleges. If you want to work in film, you probably want to attend a college near Los Angeles or New York. If you want to work on Wall Street, you might want to consider attending a school on the east coast. I’m not saying someone who goes to school in California can’t get a job on Wall Street but there are more recruiters for Wall Street companies going to east coast schools than west coast schools. On the flip side, if you want to work for a tech startup in Silicon Valley, you probably will have an easier time finding an internship during school while you go to a west coast school than if you went to school on the east coast. As you know, an internship in a similar field will make your resume more attractive to prospective employers after graduation.

4. Size and Reach fit

Do you thrive better in an environment where you are a small fish in big pond or a big fish in small pond? These are questions you need to ask yourself when you are choosing a college. Some students thrive at a small university; others want to be at a larger university that has more national and international resources and connections. Some students need the smaller class size and the smaller freshmen class while others don’t mind a public university, which has a larger class size but has more academic programs to choose from, a larger alumni pool and more resources.

5. The “Je ne sais quoi” fit

“Je ne sais quoi” literally means “I don’t know what”. It is a French expression that essentially means something special that you cannot explain. It is also called the “X Factor”. After students visit a few campuses, they are drawn to certain colleges without being able to explain why. I don’t discount that “je ne sais quoi” feeling because that feeling is real and it should play a big part in your decision in choosing a school that you want to apply to. I don’t think this feeling should necessarily be the driving force in your decision; however, if a student has visited the campus and done a thorough campus visit (see previous post What to do when you are on a college visit, then I think this “je ne sais quoi” feeling combined with the above 4 factors are essential to selecting the list of colleges you will apply to this upcoming fall.


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