Selecting a college is a stressful process and making THE choice can often feel like a daunting task. To help out with choosing a right-fit school, here are a number of common mistakes to avoid along the way:
1. Rushing the process:
You’re out of time! It’s time to make a decision. Finding the right college takes time and effort, not to mention research and often a lengthy application process. Waiting until the last minute or just “falling into a college” is never a good idea. It takes the most important factor out of the equation – you.
2. Being a follower:
I will follow you! Following a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend to the college may seem like a great idea at the time because you want to be near them, but this is one of the most pivotal points in your life, too. You need to remember to make the best decisions for yourself, and if your relationships are strong, they will outlast time and distance no matter where you end up. Visiting your friends on weekends is fun too!
3. The legacy lure:
Big shoes to fill! Only considering colleges your parents, siblings, or other family members went to in order to follow in their footsteps may not be in your best interest. It’s always better to explore your options and find the right fit for your personality.
Rebel, rebel! Only considering colleges your parents DON’T want you to go isn’t beneficial either. Sometimes, they have some good insight that may help you decide on what may be best for you. Don’t choose – or not choose – a college out of spite. This is sure to lead you down a path of regret. Choose a college based on what you want, not based on what someone else doesn’t.
5. You’re a die-hard fan:
Rah! Rah! We have all got our favorite teams, but let’s remember that just because a school has a great sports program does not mean it’s the right educational fit for you. After all, you’re there to learn and prepare for your future. You can be a fan anywhere, but you can’t learn everywhere.
6. The temptation to party:
PARTY! It’s a great party school, but is it a great learning environment? While you may be itching to finally get out on your own and party like a fool, that’s really not what college is about. Remember, when choosing a college you want to choose somewhere where you can have a healthy social atmosphere, but also an environment that’s conducive to the real goal at hand…learning.
7. How a student body looks:
So what? Maybe you like this, maybe you’re worried you won’t fit in, either way, you should ignore these stereotypes because they probably are just that. Also, the attractiveness of a student body shouldn’t really make a difference in your decision on where to get your education.
8. Assuming the worst:
You know what they say about assuming! Not applying to certain schools because you assume you won’t be accepted underrates your potential and potentially limits your future. You never know what you can accomplish if you don’t try, so at least make an attempt. You may surprise yourself!
9. Location, location, location:
Location matters! Whether you’re a homebody who wants to stay close or an escape artist who wants to get as far from home as possible, the location should be a factor in choosing a school, but not the primary decision maker.
10. Cost obsessions or carelessness:
BE CAREFUL! Personal or family financial circumstances will certainly have a major impact, but not considering the cost, or only considering the cost, as a factor are issues to strongly consider. While cost is a huge hurdle, there are other factors to consider as well and students should not be blinded by this one aspect. On the other hand, students who are applying for financial aid or whose parents are paying for college should not neglect to think about cost completely, as costs can quickly add up and significantly so. College debt is a huge problem in this country, and being strapped with loan payments for 20 to 30 years, or more, is quite a burden.
11. Not visiting:
To visit, or not to visit, that is the question! Everyone has different experiences because we are all different, and one person’s dream college could be another’s nightmare. This is why going by what you’ve been told is never a good idea. Also, only looking at the website or relying on a college’s marketing is a mistake…because schools tend to idealize college life and students get unrealistic expectations of what campus is truly like. If possible, it’s always better to visit and experience the campus for yourself. Of course, the ideal time to do this is when school’s in session in order to get the best feel.
12. Relying on reputation:
Not to mention names! Just because it’s a “highly-ranked”, “prestigious” or “designer” school doesn’t mean it’s the right fit school for you. Don’t always assume that the difficulty of getting into the school equates to the quality of education you’ll receive. Some students need smaller classes and more one-on-one interaction to thrive in a learning environment.
13. Pushy parents:
Hmmm! This is a tough one, particularly if parents are controlling the purse strings. With that said…letting your parents decide which college is right for you, or being forced by your parents to attend a certain school is not healthy. You need to think about what you want out of a college. After all, you’re the one attending the school.
14. Having a one-track mind:
I’ve always wanted to go there! You’ve convinced yourself since you were little this is the only school for you. There are many factors you should consider when choosing if a school is the right fit for you. Not investigating all your options is a huge mistake. You can still attend your number one, but we’re suggesting you be open to checking out others too. Just because you think it’s what you want doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions, and you can never ask too many!
15. The college specializes in your current major:
That’s right, we said current! Choosing a college solely because of a specific major or career path is a major (pun intended) issue because, odds are, your major will change several times. There’s nothing wrong with that, we just want you to be prepared with a school ready to accommodate all your dreams, whatever they may be.
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