How do you know if a college is right for you?

It’s college acceptance season. Prospective students and their families are watching the mail, making choices and filling out financial aid forms. Today’s Question: How do you know if a college is right for you?

  • A college is right for you if you are star stricken by the professors.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    One thing I tell my students is to NOT pay too much heed to all the great things the admissions counselors will tell them. This person’s job is basically one of “head-hunter” and this person actually has little, if any, interest in actually making sure the student is a good fit for the college, and vice-versa. A potential student need to schedule at least a couple visits to the school, sit in on a few classes, eat in the cafeteria, tour the dorms, and chat with actual students about their experience.

  • Emery

    This year our very nice and together-seeming babysitter announced he was planning to major in journo. “Don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” I said. And laid out the reasons.

    He came back a month later and said he’d taken my advice to heart and was going to major in Phys Ed instead.

    That’s the last time I offer anybody advice on college. Probably including my own kids.

  • James

    I have 3 children in college currently, and participated in each of their selection processes. Here are some of the criteria we used.

    1) Price, including travel and other costs.

    2) The quality of their placement office. If they don’t actually help you get a job when you graduate, what’s the point?

    3) Location. Over the 4+ years, you will build a network that can be useful if you plan to live somewhere near it once you graduate.

    4) Quality of the other students attending. What is the ACT/SAT cutoff at the low end. If it is really low, the quality of the experience is going to be diminished.

    5) All the other stuff. Does it have your major? Do people tend to graduate in 4 years? etc..

  • Jim G

    I attended two undergraduate higher ed institutions, one small private religious college and then University of Minnesota. I choose those schools for differing reasons as my vocational aspirations changed. In the end I chose them because they offered the programs I was interested in and I could find a way to make them affordable by living at home for two years and working the two part-time jobs I had. As the eldest son in the family, I felt a responsibility to pay my own way and not burden my parents who still had three kids at home. My loans were paid off after three years and but my wife’s loans were larger and took a full seven years. It was different time. Our dreams were still affordable.

  • JasonB

    If I can (or rather could) afford it. My ability to pay for my schooling was a big factor, along with the university’s prestige and the program quality of my major.

    In hindsight I wish I had been able to afford an out-of-state school. I was not aware of and thus did not appreciate the value of living away from old friends and family. The experience of being in a totally new environment would have helped me to grow and mature in more ways than just earning a degree.

  • Amy Ann

    For me, I not only had that feeling in my gut that it was right, I was happy about my decisions, too. Maybe not the most concrete advice, but one I’ve had college students tell me was comforting.

  • Laura

    Deciding on a college is difficult. Coming from a small town high school with limited exposure to diverse careers, I had no idea what I wanted to do. For me it was about finding a school that offered a wide range of degrees and was located in a metropolitan area for good internship/job opportunities. But the most important thing that helped me decide was how I felt walking around the campus and if I could actually picture myself as a student there. I agree with Amy Ann – you feel it in your gut.

  • Alana

    If it has a strong NORML group that’s a plus.