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Ten Tips for Starting Your College Search

Whether you are going back to college or helping a child select an educational institution, it is important to think carefully about how you conduct the college search. Here are a few tips to follow when it comes to the college search. 

By
Andrew Charles, Partner
4-minute read

There's nothing quite like going to college. This is a major decision, and it is important to think carefully about which college you decide to choose. Whether you are going back to college or helping a child select an educational institution, it is important to think carefully about how you conduct the college search. This is going to have a major impact on not only the educational experience but also personal growth and development. What are a few tips to follow when it comes to the college search? Take a look at several key tips below. 

1. Think about yourself first

During the college search, you need to think about yourself first. What this means is that you need to assess where you are at as a person. What do you like to do for fun? Who do you like to hang out with? Then, think about what you need in a college. What are the most important features? What do you want to do with your life? This will help you find the right college for you.

Remember that college is going to be what you make of it.

2. Talk to a counselor

It is also a good idea for you to talk to a professional counselor. For example, if you are still in school, there is probably a college counselor who can help you assess your options. Be sure to talk to this person to develop school recommendations. They may be able to put schools on your list that you may not have even thought about. It is always a good idea to have outside input.

3. Dream big

College is a time to dream big. Therefore, put yourself out there. Do not hesitate to shoot for the stars. Take a look at as many schools as possible, and see what you think your life might be like. If you dream as big as possible, you can find the best school for your needs. Remember that college is going to be what you make of it. What do you think life is going to be like? What do you think your fellow students will be like? Use your imagination. 

4. Start early

It is never too early to start thinking about college. The earlier you start, the more options you will have time to assess. It is not unusual for people to start thinking about college during middle school, but you definitely need to start thinking about college by the time you reach your junior year.

If you are thinking about going back to school as an adult, give yourself more time to assess your options. Start as early as possible.

5. Think about cost and career 

Even though money is not the only factor you need to consider, you certainly do not want to overlook it. You need to think about the cost of your education and how you are going to finance it. You also need to think about the financial aspects of your career to see if you can repay student loans if you need them.

6. Create a need versus want list

You need to develop a need versus want list. What do you absolutely need in a school? Then, what do you want to have? This will help you narrow down your choices as you start to evaluate different options. You need to make sure your school has everything you need to be successful.

Even though you need to focus on your education, you also need to enjoy your experience.

7. Never hesitate to ask questions

When you are looking at a college, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Therefore, make sure you ask all the questions you have. Whether you are talking to a tour guide, a college counselor, or even a family member, make sure all of your concerns are addressed. That way, you get the full picture before you decide where to put that school on your list.

8. Visit the campus 

You need to make sure you visit the campus before you make a decision. The feel has to be right. Walk around campus and see what you think of the area. Do you like the buildings? Are you comfortable in that location? Are people friendly to you?

Make sure you visit campus before you decide.

9. Talk to current students

Speaking of visiting the campus, you also need to talk to the current students. What do they like to do for fun? What do most of the students study? What do they like to do on the weekends? This will help you figure out if that school is right for you. Even though you need to focus on your education, you also need to enjoy your experience.

10. Ask about job opportunities

Finally, you also need to ask about job opportunities. When people finish their education, where do they get jobs? How hard is it to get a position? Are the students happy with the jobs they get? You need to think about your career aspirations and make sure they align with the positions the students are getting when they graduate. That way, you know you will get the most out of your college experience. 

Get the full picture before you decide if you should put that school on your list.

Enjoy the college search

These are a few of the most important tips to keep in mind if you are thinking about starting your college search. Remember that this is not something you have to do on your own. There are professionals who can help you find the right college for you.