During the college search process, a lot of students can get caught up in the “name game,” hoping that the name of their college will impress others when asked, “where are you going to school?” We’re here to assure you that prestige and name recognition is not a requirement for receiving an excellent college education.
Focus on the Fit
Though a school may have a recognizable name, that doesn’t mean that it’s a suitable fit for all students. For those who attend a school that doesn’t fit, they are more likely to suffer from anxiety and less likely to graduate on-time (or at all). Ultimately, what you do in college is far more indicative of your success than the reputation of your school. Because of this fact, you want to make sure you are attending an institution where you feel like you belong. Choose a school that offers the academic program you are interested in and where you feel comfortable getting involved in the community.
Don’t worry about the opinions of others
We get it. You want to show people that you can get into a name brand school, that your future is bright. Well, guess what? Your future is bright no matter which school you choose, no matter if you decide to take a gap year, or if you forego college altogether. Do not let anyone’s opinion dictate your decisions about college; concentrate instead on the choices that work best for you. Sometimes, this may mean turning down admission to a competitive school and opting instead for an in-state public school or community college.
How to Determine Fit
You may be wondering how to make sure you’re choosing a school where you’ll achieve the most success. Below, we will explore a few factors you should examine (and take note that none of them have to do with recognizability).
Remember that the best education is the one you can afford. Prestigious universities tend to be the most expensive. To learn more about this topic, read these reasons for choosing a more affordable option.
When it comes to academics, you want to find the sweet spot between being challenged without being overwhelmed. When classes are too rigorous, your mental health suffers. When things aren’t difficult enough, you may feel you’re wasting your money. When doing your research on a school, check out some of the courses; do they offer classes that excite you?
When living on campus, you want to thrive socially in your environment! In college, you will have a lot more free time than you did in high school, so make sure the schools you explore have activities that appeal to you. You may also want to check the status of partying and Greek life on your college’s campus if those are aspects of the college experience you want to avoid or take part in.
Think about the size of your school both in terms of the campus and the population. If you prefer to have more intimate class sizes, your college doesn’t have to be bigger than your high school. If the thought of learning in large lecture halls excites you, look into schools with large student bodies. Consider the size of your campus and if walkability is important to you.
If you foresee yourself getting homesick, it’s probably a better choice for you to choose a college that’s close to home. If you have a thirst for adventure, attending school in a different state may be the route for you. Think about climate. Do you love experiencing four seasons, including snow in the winter? Or do you consider yourself solar powered and need constant sunshine?
It is possible that you won’t find a school that fulfills all of these categories perfectly. Perhaps, you choose an affordable school that isn’t as academically challenging as you were hoping for. That’s okay! There are ways for you to make the most of your situation. If classes are too easy, take full course loads, add on another major, or apply to the honors program to give yourself an extra challenge. If you’re not satisfied with the social life on-campus, create your own student organization to find like-minded students. As long as you are willing to make it work, you will find happiness wherever you go.