Megan’s Experience with Choosing the Right College for Her
August 14, 2019
by Megan Lengel
When looking for the right college, it is vital that you consider what you want to get out of your college experience. Some people prioritize socializing and getting to know the people on their campus, and others focus on their academics and career-oriented goals. Finding the right balance is a challenge, and something you most likely will be continually figuring out as you work through your undergraduate career. There are great websites to help you narrow down your search, such as College Board’s Big Future college search engine (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search), which allows you to narrow down your prospects based on test scores, size of school, tuition cost, diversity statistics, and so on. You can then compare colleges using this engine to see what works best for you. If you are still early in your college searching, Big Future even allows you to map out your prospective undergraduate plans. After you’ve narrowed colleges down, look at the websites of prospective colleges. Browse their list of majors and look at the classes they offer. Make a note of the graduation requirements for your desired major. Ensure that there is a variety of classes you have the option of taking. Find courses that excite you! Also make a point of looking at the extracurriculars and clubs that university offers. Most universities require Experiential Learning credits for graduation; look for any on-campus opportunities for community service that may fulfill these credits. Look in the area around the campus to see if there are any potential internship locations you are interested in. Anything that you may be curious about should be on that university website. Also be sure to make a point of seeing if you like the town that the college is located in! You don’t want to be stuck on campus all the time (or if you do, make sure it’s a nice campus!).
What is essential above all else is that you ensure you have a good team behind you. Check out the disability services on the campuses you look at. Meet with the office before you make a decision between colleges. Ensure that they are fully willing to work with you and check with yourself: would you feel comfortable coming to them about any issues you may have? People with disabilities may face problems with virtually every bureaucratic and academic office on campus; it is vital that you pick a team that prioritizes you over profit. That aside, check your gut when you visit campus. I did not get the “gut reaction” that so many people talk about when finding the perfect college. I definitely got one when I walked on to a campus I knew was absolutely wrong for me. Trust your gut. If you don’t get a strong positive reaction to any campus, that’s perfectly okay. Go with the one you feel like will offer the most opportunities, both socially and academically.
I wish I knew to look at the types of degrees your university gives out, so here is me saying: CHECK THE KINDS OF DEGREES YOUR UNIVERSITY AWARDS. Especially if you want to do a double major, this is very important. Though I did a double major in Psychology and Sociology, I had to choose only one major to get a degree in at the end of my schooling. Though my transcript shows that I studied both subjects, I only have a degree in Psychology to show for my work. At other universities, I may have received both a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Bachelor’s in Sociology, or had received one degree acknowledging the double major, but my university only awarded one degree. It is not necessarily a bad thing to complete a double major and get one degree, but it is important that you be educated in all the options available to you. It does not necessarily change your job prospects, but it may give you more career flexibility to have more than one degree acknowledged. I do highly recommend double majoring, or even just doing a minor in a topic you’re passionate in. Even if it doesn’t directly correlate with your career prospects, I guarantee that you will get more out of your academic experience and will come away being more multi-dimensional and attractive in the job field if you do so, as opposed to only majoring in one field. Thisis not a condemnation of only doing one major: finances, mental health, and time constraints should be prioritized before anything else. Though I am proud of my degree and double major, I regret not looking into the different kinds of certifications universities offer. Some universities offer dual degree programs, in which you complete schooling for two different degrees, usually in a shortened amount of time. Upon graduation, the student would receive a degree for each subject studied. These programs tend to be more expensive. Some universities give you one degree with both double majors listed, and others make you choose between receiving a B.S. or a B.A., sometimes with both majors listed, sometimes not. Check with your university on what their standards are, and ascertain whether you are okay with what you would get in the end.