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Tips on Choosing the Right College

March 13, 2018
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by Jack Sullivan ’20, Graphic Design Major from Yorktown Heights, NY

Big question here, tips on choosing the right college. There is no right answer for anyone. Almost everyone would do well at more than one school, and as a prospective student your job is to determine at which schools you could do well. Picking your college can be really stressful and most definitely scary for a lot of students, however, there are some factors worth thinking about to make your decision much easier.

Tip #1: Remove the Pizzazz 

First tip, and this is a big one, remove all pizzazz from the table. Now, what do I mean by that? Well the second you sign up for a school’s mailing list or jump on a tour, that school is going to begin its attempt to appeal to you. Every school in the country wants a large pool of awesome students to choose from, so that their student body can be the best it can be. Some schools will spend a great deal of money on this process. Some will send you personalized posters with your name printed on them. Some will send you books. One school (and this is true) sent me a t-shirt with temporary tattoos!

It is so easy to get sucked up in this part of the process, and it is why some schools go to the efforts they do in convincing you to apply. However, it is important you remember who is paying for this ‘pizzazz.’ It is no doubt the attending student who is paying for all this, and if you attend the school for the pizzazz, you will pay for the pizzazz. From what I remember, Purchase Admissions sent me a modest and heartfelt handwritten postcard post-tour, which was lovely.

Tip #2: Tour it Up

This brings me to my next tip! Go on tours! You should attempt to join a tour for every school you may want to attend. See the campus, see the surrounding area, stay for lunch! Get a feel for what your life may be like in your new setting. Schools can have hundreds of great photos online, but no amount will equal the value of an in-person introduction. Believe me, the feeling you can get on a campus plays a big role in the influence of your college decision.

Tip #3: You’re There to Learn

My third, final, and most important tip is this: Do not be smitten by anything a school has to offer, other than the academics. You are deciding the path of your future, and your journey to higher education and prosperity. What a residence hall looks like, or what the grass looks like, or which friends are attending can play a role, but none should be so heavily weighted as the school’s academic offerings.

If a school has residence halls that look like the inside of a spaceship, or a penthouse suite at the Carlyle Hotel, it is so easy to get sucked right in to the outward beauty. But it is important to remember that you will pay for that beauty! Just as you would staying in any luxury hotel. You want your money going to your classes! College can be a huge investment of money and time wherever you go, and you should be considering its lifelong value; what you can control is how much you spend and where your money goes. What you learn in college is the most important piece for every student, so make sure your school meets all of your academic needs while also providing great value.

The Bottom Line

What you will take away from your college experience is your new knowledge, skills and your memories. Make sure your school has exactly what you’re seeking academically to empower your knowledge, and the confidence to create your memories.

If you consider these tips, I don’t think it will be hard to pick the school that is right for you. It certainly wasn’t for me. ;)