My sophomore year of high school I began the long search of determining which college I wanted to attend. I was looking at pamphlets, websites, visiting my school counselor, taking tours. The process was extensive, but my decision was going to impact my future, possibly my entire life!
After a year of research, I finally decided to attend Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. As I’m writing this I have finished my first year there and I can honestly say I made the best choice for my needs! Missouri State is everything and more to me and I’m happy to call it my home away from home.
Looking to find your place in the college world? Here are some questions I asked myself as I went through the procedure of picking my college, and how you too, can find your home away from home!
Qualified or Unprepared?
So you find a college you’re interested in. Great! This is a start. One of the first things you should look into is if you meet the qualifications to go there. Do you have a high enough ACT score? Do you meet the GPA requirement? You can’t attend a school if you don’t meet the requirements! Usually, the requirements to attend a college can be located on their FAQ page on their website or on the application.
In State or Out of State?
For me, the decision was easy, I wanted something In-State because of how costly tuition can be out of state. While some colleges offer in-state tuition for out of state college students, I felt it was important for me to still be close to home but still far away enough to where I could be on my own.
University or Private College?
Believe me, there’s quite a difference in more ways than one. My older brother attended a private college, and not only was his campus small, his student loans stacked up BIG time. He was on twice as many scholarships as I was and my tuition was still LESS than his! But he was also going towards a higher degree. Look into both options when given the choice, because you may not need to attend a private college, but it could help you in the long run.
Scholarships or Student Loans?
If you’re torn between a few schools, consider the scholarships. Is one school offering you a full-ride and the other offering only 10% tuition? These days it’s taking college students a lot longer to pay off their student loans. My suggestion is, if a college is offering to pay for all your schooling, you might want to put them at the top of your college list.
Small or Large Campus?
Size REALLY does matter when it comes to your college campus. I was intimidated by big colleges like Mizzou, but a small isolated college like Truman made me feel like I was on my own island a thousand miles from shore. I was really looking for something in the middle, a comfortable medium. Determine what size makes you comfortable. If you want something smaller, by all means, go for it! If you want a large college where you can get lost in the crowd, go for that too if it’s what makes you feel the most at home.
Major or Undecided?
Having a major or career in mind can really help make the college picking process easier. If you’re wanting to be a nurse, find a great school that specializes in the nursing field. Looking to pursue a career in engineering? Locate a school that has a great engineering program. Knowing what you want to do with your life can really help narrow down your choices. If you’re not completely set on a major, that’s fine too! Find a school that is well-rounded with all their programs so that when you do make a decision on a major, you’ll still have a great set of professors that’ll help you start your journey to graduation.
Social Butterfly or Introvert?
If you’re someone who is quiet and doesn’t appreciate big crowds of people, perhaps a large college may not be right for you. It’s easy to get lost in the lifestyle, so don’t be afraid to consider something smaller or more local.
Statistics or Out on a Whim?
If you have a list of schools in mind, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do some research on some of the campuses. What are they known for? Do they have a bad reputation regarding Greek life? What are their graduation statistics? If a school seems amazing, and then you find out their dropout rates aren’t so good, you might want to consider another school and investigate a little bit more.
Familiar or A New Start?
This was a very important factor for me when choosing my college. I wanted to attend a college that wasn’t close to home, but close enough to the point where things would still be familiar. I also didn’t want to go to a college where I knew everyone. I wanted a new beginning where I could make new friends, while still seeing some familiar faces every once in a while.
Isolated or Populated?
I remember attending one of my first college visits. I loved the campus, the size, the people, it had a program from my major…but the nearest mall or Walmart was almost an hour away. That terrified me! I’m used to living in a decently sized city, and that big of a change would have certainly been a culture shock. When you consider your choices, make sure you analyze the surrounding area so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Sunny Days or Snowed In?
Something you might not have thought about to think of is the weather! If you live in a sunny state like Florida, you might not want to pick someplace like Alaska to attend a school unless you’re very committed. If your heart is set on snow and mountains, go for it, but going from t-shirts to winter coats may not be the easiest adjustment.
Picking a college can be an incredible experience. It gave me a chance to start my life over while also gaining some great life experiences. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, try something new! You could find your new home in the oddest of places.