How to Pick the Best College for You

Getting a college education is a big deal. Any responsible person can tell you that. It is something everyone wants to accomplish to ensure a better future.

Unfortunately, some people think of college as some kind of a utopia that is hard to attain. It is not. College education is something any high school student with normal intelligence and motivation can readily accomplish.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when choosing the best college/school for you:

  • Know thyself. This is an ancient teaching taught no less by the great philosopher Socrates. If you’re an average student, you may not make it to an Ivy League school, but it is certainly not the end of your quest for a good college education. Being average or even below average in one or two subject areas does not mean that you’re like that in all subject areas. You must discover what subjects you’re good at and which you most enjoy. They usually come together. Make a self-analysis, but also consult your parents, high school counselors, and trusted friends. They have a lot to share in your quest for self-discovery and your choice of a college or university.
  • Know thy options. Choose a school or college not only on the basis of size or name, but on the strength of course offerings, faculty, and experience of their graduates. Check their individual websites. Talk to their students. Sit-in in one or two of their classes. If financing your education is an issue, then you have to discuss this matter with your parents or check the school website or attend financing workshop offered by colleges within and outside your neighborhood. Your mindset must be set on the premise that you can afford college education – because you really can, if you just look around.
  • Know thy fit. A favorite professor of mine in college defines education as “fitting men for living.” I agree, even in our choice of college. If you think you can make it to Harvard University, then by all means go for it. However, this should not be your “be all and end all” of your college quest. A good college is not measured by its size and “brand.” Sometimes, a smaller college is more conducive to learning. It is not the size of your campus or the number of people that matter, but the people and community you will have around you. In the end, it’s not your collegiate pedigree that matter to employers and graduate schools, if you opt for a graduate course, but your skills and experience.

Remember that you are unique. You have your own strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, you should be good in words, numbers, abstract reasoning, athletics, and the arts. Unfortunately, most of us are not. You may have a facility in the written words, but not in numbers and other competencies, or vice versa. Choose a college that will enhance your strengths, one that will take into account who you are and who you want to be.

Remember that college is about a fit to be made. It is not a decision to be made on the basis of friends attending the same college, or a prize to be won. Finding a good fit requires a serious time for reflection and decision-making.