When it’s time to start making a list of the colleges you want to apply to, there are many things to take into consideration: location, cost, majors offered, size, and many more aspects. Everyone will have an opinion and advice for you, from your parents to the relatives you rarely see. People often talk about the the things you should consider, but what about the things you should watch out for when composing your college list?
Here are 5 things that shouldn’t influence your list:
1. Quick and Easy Applications
As early as the end of your junior year, be prepared for your inbox to be filled with emails from colleges. Some will be about programs you indicated your interest in or upcoming admissions events. There will also be emails telling you that you, as a “priority candidate,” or another variation of that, qualify for a special application usually with some of your information already filled in. Their offers of waiving the application fee, not requiring an essay, and a quick decision may sound good, but take a moment to think of other possible costs. Does your school charge you each time you send your transcript? Do you have multiple test scores to send in also? What may first appear as something simple and free can end up costing you more. Don’t apply to a college just because the process seems quick and easy; decide if you’re actually interested in the offerings of the college and if it’s worth the cost of extra expenses, such as sending test scores.
Your favorite author went to “x” university, so you must go there too if you want to be an author, right? Nope. Unless that university has a special program that benefited the alum, chances are you’ll be able to have your desired career if you attend the best college for you. Your experience will be what you make of it. Find a school that offers the opportunities that would be most beneficial to you, such as a strong writing program and career services, instead of trying to copy someone else’s path to success. The same thing goes for applying to colleges because a celebrity will be in attendance. Although it would be cool to be lab partners with a movie star in your chemistry class, realistically, the chances of that happening are slim.
You and your best friend from high school are already discussing how you’d decorate your dorm, but wait, are you even interested in that college? Although it can be comforting to go on to college with your friends at your side, it shouldn’t interfere with you going after your dreams. Don’t push aside your desire to live in the city and attend a university just because a friend wants to go to a rural, liberal arts college. True friends will support you even if you have different college plans than them. Once again, consider the possible costs involved each time you apply to a school you don’t realistically see yourself attending.
4. One Student’s Experience
If you hear from one student about their not-so-great experience at a college, don’t automatically exclude it from your list. The same goes for hearing a great review of a college from someone; don’t decide to apply just because of their comments. Someone majoring in a smaller, less popular program at a school will most likely have a different opinion than students in the college’s top business program. The student who commutes to campus will view the social atmosphere differently than than the student living in the dorms. Talk to multiple people so you develop a better overall view of a school before deciding.
5. Solely Rankings
A school ranked number one is not necessarily the number one best fit for you. Find out what aspects were taken into account, such as graduation rates or class sizes, to compute the rankings.While rankings can help you find schools that are strong in your program of interest, it shouldn’t lead you to believe you must attend a top 5 school to be successful. Just because a school is ranked number one, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the fact that it does not offer the subject you hope to study. Although they can be helpful to a certain extent, don’t just rely on rankings solely when creating your list.