If you are approaching the end of high school and are ready to begin investigating colleges, there are several factors to consider before deciding what college is right for you. Whether you want to study medicine or painting, accounting or physical education, there are hundreds of colleges to choose from, each with their own specialized programs of study. Narrowing down your options can be a challenging task, but it is important to make an informed choice about where to continue your education.
When you are deciding which schools to which you would like to apply, you should first assess your chances of being accepted. If you are a C student with average test scores and no extra-curricular activities, you might not want to put all of your application eggs in one Ivy League basket. However, if you can afford to, you should always apply to the school of your dreams on the off chance that it just might come through for you. If you dont try, you will never know whether or not you could have gotten in.
If you have made straight As throughout high school, have high SAT and ACT test scores and have participated in a wide variety of activities, you have high chances of getting into any school of your choice. Even if you have very limited finances to work with, you should still apply to your top choices. If you are accepted, you may be able to receive scholarships and financial aid, and you always have the option to take out student loans.
When it comes down to narrowing your choices, size is a very important thing to consider. Some people like extremely large universities with tens of thousands of students. However, others enjoy the comfort of a small campus with as few as several hundred students. There are also a variety of colleges that lie in between these two options. Though it is hard to know before you get there, you probably have a good idea of your general preferences regarding school size, and this will help you focus your search.
You should also consider whether you would like to go to a private or a public school. Private schools are typically more expensive, but some are also more prestigious. Private religiously-based schools are also an option. Virtually every faith runs at least on college in the United States, and most have several to choose from. If you would rather stick to secular schooling, state-supported schools are often your best financial deal. These schools receive support from the government, in addition to private funding, so they are typically less expensive and more able to offer larger financial aid packages.
Location is also an important factor to consider when you are choosing a college. Think about how close or how far away you would like to be from where you grew up. If you want to be within a days drive of home, consider local and regional schools. However, if you are looking for a cross-country adventure, you might consider schools in far away states or even consider studying abroad. Some fields of study are better suited to certain geographic locations, as well. For instance, artists can get a real-life education in New York City, whereas actors might consider schooling in California. If marine biology is your chosen field of study, a college with an aquatic location would obviously be the best choice. Geologists often flock to the southwest, and environmentalists often seek education in the northeast. You should consider both personal your climate preferences and your career goals when you are choosing a college location.
Though choosing a college can be stressful, it can also be fun. Remember that college is just the first step on your professional journey, and you will most likely change majors, interests, and possibly even change colleges before you finish your undergraduate degree. So, make a wise and informed choice with the knowledge that you will probably change your mind several times before it is all said and done.
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* It was an early move-in for a group of first-year UNH students who packed their bags and boarded a boat to Marine Immersion week at the Shoals Marine Lab. Marine Immersion is an intensive, two-credit course where students plunge into hands-on marine science.
Produced by Jeremy Gasowski, Communications and Public Affairs
UNH Marine Biology Bootcamp