5 Factors to Consider When Searching for Colleges

August has arrived!  If you are a junior or senior now is the time to begin thinking about where you want to attend college. Searching for a college to attend is much like buying a car.

When buying a car do you just show up to the dealership and buy it on the spot? Most of us do our research. We have an idea in mind of what we would like to buy. Not to mention a budgeted amount that we shouldn’t go over. The same approach can be used when searching for colleges.

We first have to start with the question of “What am I looking for in a college?” or “What do I want to get out of attending college?” At All*Star Financial Aid we guide you through a series of questions that will help you get on paper what kind of college in which you might be interested. We believe that both the family and student should be on the same page about what each desires in a college.

1.       Location

Do you want to get as far from home as possible or would you like to visit home every other weekend? That laundry isn’t going to do itself you know. There is also the campus setting to consider. Would you like to live in a small college town or a big city? Do you want a campus that is all in one place or spread out over different locations?

2.       Program/Major/Degree

It isn’t necessary to know your major when entering college however it is good to have some idea. Some questions to ask yourself when thinking about a program, major and degree would be what is your favorite subject in school? Do you have any interests or hobbies? Do any family members or mentors have jobs that peak your interest?

3.       Type of Institution

There are four types of institutions and each one is different.  The four types are Community College, Public College, Private (not-for –profit), Private (for-profit). Community colleges offer 2 year degrees and the rest offer 4 year degrees. These degrees are known as Associates (2 year) and Bachelors (4 year). Both community colleges and public colleges receive government funding which means the cost of attending (tuition) could be lower than private colleges.

4.       Housing

Yes there are even options regarding housing. First there is the decision of staying at home, on-campus, or off-campus. Most colleges require students to live on-campus their first year. So if you decide to live on campus you will want to make sure to see what your living situation looks like. There are off-campus housing opportunities as well however it can be costly to live on your own. Many share living cost with a roommate or two. Also when considering your living options think about the student life on campus. Being involved in student life on-campus can be very informative and an easy way to make new friends.

5.       Extra-curricular

A lot of times it is the extra-curricular activities that help you hone in on what you want to do in life. They help you network with people that you may not otherwise meet. Extra-curricular activities can help your mental and physical well-being. Whether it be student government, intramural sports or collegiate sports, extra-curricular activities is another factor to use when searching for colleges.

As you can see there is much to consider. Again it is important that both you the student and your family are on the same page when considering these options.

What other factors would you consider when searching for a college to attend? Feel free to comment below.