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Every year juniors in high school are asked if they have started looking into where they want to go for college. The list of options for further education is endless. When I began my search for the perfect college, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea whether I wanted a big or small school, public or private, or any idea what I really wanted from a school. Every college or university has different things to offer and it can be difficult to decide where you want to go, but it can be done.
Here are some tips to help narrow down your options and make the decision that will give you the best college experience:
1. Don't limit yourself.
Many times when someone is looking for a place to go to school, they don't always research all the ones they are interested in for one reason or another. If you feel any kind of inclination to interest in a school, look into it. You don't want to regret not applying to or attending a school. By finding the schools you have interest in you give yourself a good base with which to start and reduce the number of schools from there. Also be sure that you look in to the schools that you are interested in, not ones that you feel pressured to research because of family or friends.
Make a list of the most important things you know you are looking for in a college or university. It could be athletics, the major you're looking for, distance from home or any other list of items. Take the time to think about what you are looking for and go through your list of colleges and decide which ones check all the important boxes. By doing this you will really be able to see which ones will be the best fit for you and further narrow your list.
3. Be realistic.
While it may be your dream to go across the country to go to college, for some it just isn't possible. Look into the logistics of how it would be for you to go to each school. Some may be way out of your price range and others may just not be in the right location for your needs. This doesn't mean you have to rule these out, just consider that some may be better options for you than others.
Once you have your list down to a reasonable size, visit as many of the schools as possible. Taking a tour and seeing the campus is really the best way to get a feel for how you would feel living there. It is also a great way to see the town around the school, meet some people and feel out the area. Visiting a school also helps because they often show you how much financial aid you would receive and what your average cost would be.
5. Trust your gut.
If you just feel deep down that the school is right or wrong for you, trust that feeling. Sometimes you can't put words to why the school feels awesome or terrible, but your feelings about it are the best gauge. Don't stress too much about the whole process, there is a college for everyone who is looking.