Choosing a College
How to choose the right school for you
With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States-including more than 2,300 four-year institutions-there's never been a greater range of choices for college-bound students. But of course a wide selection often leads to complication and confusion. With so many options, how do you make the college decision that's right for you?
Tips to help narrow down your college decision
Experts in the college search process say you can begin cutting down the list by thinking hard about the college criteria that are most important to you. For instance:
- Geography. Do you imagine attending an urban school, or one surrounded by rolling hills? Would you prefer to be several states away from home, or within a short drive?
- Other characteristics. Do you picture yourself at a co-ed or single-sex institution? One which has a strong fraternity/sorority life? Do you like big, lecture-style classes or do you prefer smaller classes, with attention from the professors?
- Match your plans with school strengths. What do you plan to choose for a college major? While that might change before graduation, begin matching your interests with the schools that are historically strong in those areas. How can you find out which schools are strong in which areas? You'll find plenty of answers from your school's college counselor, a good library or bookstore and the Web sites of various schools.
- Consider the cost. A school's cost is important, of course. But experts say it's best to try not to focus too much on this issue at first when choosing a college. After all, you might qualify for far more financial aid than you suspect, aid that would close the gap between what your family thinks it can afford and what it actually costs to attend any particular school.
- Find out what students are saying. Look for testimonials, visit Facebook or explore other social sites to see if current students are talking about any of the schools you're considering.
The next step for choosing the college experience that you want
Now that you've begun answering those questions, what can you do next to continue narrowing down your search? Two big suggestions on how to choose a college:
- Attend a college fair, where you can talk to recruiters of various schools.
- Schedule campus visits, where you can get a real feel for what the school is like. Most schools would be happy to let you stay overnight in the dorms.
Make your college decision, then learn more about the affordable TruFit Student Loan™
Access more information about financing your education on our student loan FAQ page. You might also be interested in learning about the affordable Charter One TruFit Student Loan™. If you still have questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-721-3969, and we'll help walk you through the process.
Additional student loan and college planning resources
- Starting College: Where Do I Begin?
- What to Look for on a College Campus Visit
- Preparing for College
- Sorting Through College-Related Mail