10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Final College Choice

Think About What You Really Want in a College Experience

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Most high school seniors make their decision about which college to attend in the fall, but some push it to the limit and wait until the spring to make a choice. This timeframe might have to change as the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, will now be available in October. This could dramatically alter the timeframe for reviewing financial aid awards and making a final college choice.

Early decision and early acceptance may be more viable options, with those who procrastinate losing out on the most desirable choices and certain forms of financial aid. If you are still on the fence, here are ten questions you can ask yourself that might just make the difference:

  1. Is this the right fit for me? First and foremost should be whether you feel comfortable at this particular school. Don’t put yourself through four years of torture just to get a prestigious degree. You want to enjoy the experience and grow as a person along the way. Some colleges are more nurturing and supportive than others.
  2. Is this the best financial aid package available? Have you compared all of the financial aid awards you received to make sure you are receiving the maximum amount of financial aid to which you are entitled? Some colleges have access to more grants and scholarships than others, which might make them more appealing.
  1. How much am I borrowing in student loans? Make sure you understand how much you and your parents are borrowing in federal and private student loans to attend this college. Talk about who will be responsible for repaying those loans once you graduate, so there won’t be any financial surprises down the road.
  1. Are you happy with the graduation rates at this school? Since the primary objective of attending college is to get a degree, be sure to check the potential school’s graduation rates. Learn how many students graduate in four years. Then find out how many of the students in your major were able to get jobs after graduation, and how much they are earning now.
  2. Am I willing to work harder to attend this school? If there is a college that seems perfect, but is just a little out of your family’s financial reach, decide what you might be willing to do to go there. Can you find a part-time job on or near campus, offer some type of service online, or work more when you are home on break or during the summer?
  3. Will I like the extracurricular activities? Activities outside the classroom can be just as important to your development as what you learn in class. Make sure there are extracurricular activities, internships, and plenty of learning opportunities in your chosen field.
  4. Can I afford to live there? While most schools have dorms and dining facilities, you are more on your own at others. If you are living off-campus, buying your own meals, or using your own transportation, those can all drive up your cost of attendance.
  1. Will you fit in? Think back to your campus visit and focus on how you felt around the other students and teachers. Did it seem like a place where you would be a natural fit, or were you already feeling like an outsider?
  2. Will I know anyone there? It can be intimidating to be the only person from your high school at a particular college. Find out if others from your class or hometown are going to this school and get to know them better over the summer.
  3. Take the ten-second test: Instead of trying to answer all these questions, and getting bogged down in your responses, simply ask yourself, “Is this college right for me, yes or no?” You might be surprised by your answer.

Remember, this isn’t a decision you are necessarily bound to forever. While it is easier to stay at one school through graduation, it is possible to change if you start at one and decide you really have made the wrong choice.