The Next Four Years

February 8, 2022

What to look for when picking a college? 

The time has come to start making a decision as to where you will spend the next four years of your life. This time can be stressful, overwhelming, but exciting. You ask yourself, “Where do I start?” and “What do I look for in a school?”. 

As a senior in high school, I have been on a handful of college tours. When I visit each college, I consider these key factors: Location, Academic Programs, Size, Cost, Room and Board, and the Campus Environment. 

 

Questions to ask yourself:  

Location 

Do you mind being far away from home? What is the weather like? Does it snow? Do you want your college to be located in a big city? Would you rather have a small-town feel? 

 

Academic Programs 

What colleges offer your intended major? What classes are required as a freshman? Do you want a school that will challenge you? Does the school offer other opportunities within your major? Will I land an internship? 

 

Size

Do you want a small school? Big school? A bigger school will most likely offer more classes and activities. Smaller schools may allow for more one-on-one time with your professors. Smaller schools will have less students in each class, which will allow for you to make strong connections with your other classmates. Smaller schools tend to also have a stronger sense of community. A big school will have a larger alumni connection than a smaller school, allowing students to have a better chance of landing a job after college. A bigger school will have more majors and programs which will allow students to explore their certain interests or even expand their interest in other areas, meaning that the school will have more academic opportunities. 

 

Cost

What is the total cost of tuition? Is the school located near an expensive city? Will you need a car to get to some classes? Are there different types of financial aid offered? 

 

Room and Board 

What condition are the dorms in? Old or new? What types of meal plans are available? Are there apartments near campus? Will it be convenient for you? 

 

Campus Environment 

What is student life like outside the classroom? Are there activities to do on the weekends? Are the students heavily involved in student life? Greek-life? What is the percentage of students that get involved within greek-life? Is the community surrounding campus welcoming? 

 

How do you make the process manageable?

  1. Create a Pros and Cons list
  2. Talk to Current Students 
  3. Pick Your Top Five Factors 

 

What factors matter that you may think won’t? 

  1. Weather 
  2. Sports 
  3. Surrounding Areas 

 

My Journey 

As someone who applied to over 10 schools that spread throughout the United States, I have been faced with many factors that I have to consider. 

As of right now, Texas Christian University and Syracuse University are my top two choices. 

Here is how I view them: 

Texas Christian University is a private university located in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU will allow me to have smaller classes and more one-on-one time with my professors. Growing up in the south my whole life, TCU would not be a big change for me. The weather is warm during the summer and the winters are bearable. TCU offers an excellent program for my major which is an important factor to consider. At the end of the day, you are going to college to earn an education. Fort Worth, Texas is a bustling city with many activities. The location of TCU will allow me to have access to many events whether that be going to the Stockyards for a day or heading to a major league sporting event. I don’t think I would get bored or sick of the location if I decide to go to TCU. 

Syracuse University is located in Syracuse, New York. Like TCU, Syracuse will allow me to have smaller classes and more one-on-one time with my professors. The weather in Syracuse is completely different than the South. The winters are harsh, it can start snowing in November and last until April. The weather is gloomy and the sun is barely seen. However, Syracuse has the #2 program in the United States for my major. If I attend Syracuse, I know I will come out with many valuable skills that will further help me in the career I wish to pursue. I will be prepared for my future. 

 

An Honorable Mention

Auburn University is holding the third spot in my college rankings. Auburn University is located in Auburn, Alabama. Auburn is only a 2 ½ hour drive from where I live, making the trip convenient for myself and my family if they wish to visit on the weekends. While Auburn offers my major, Auburn does not rank high in the nation for my major. However, Auburn does offer great opportunities within my major. 

For myself, I do want to consider a school that is farther away from home with few people from my hometown that attend the school. Auburn is close to home and many people from my hometown will choose Auburn as their school to attend. 

I believe attending a school that is farther away from home will allow me to grow more as a person. I will gain more independence and I will figure out what is best for myself. 

 

Takeaway

Choosing the right college can be a difficult decision. Your decision will affect the next four years of your life. At the end of the day, you just want to be happy. You want to be surrounded by good people and a good environment. People say “college is what you make it” and they are right. You have to take in the bad and good moments. You have to make do of a messy situation. You have to take advantage of every opportunity that is given to you. 

The next four years will fly by.

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