There are colleges everywhere. Brick and mortar two and four year colleges that you can visit and take walking tours and attend open houses. Virtual colleges that you can visit online and talk to representatives by phone or online. Then there are also technical schools and apprenticeship options. All post-secondary institutions can help students prepare to enter a profession. So how does a student choose?
To make the best college choice, students must first know themselves. Once they have considered their personal preferences for a large or small school, a school close to home and other details, they can begin the process of sorting through options.
Prior to determining a college major, students should consider career preferences. Collecting information about careers is as easy as visiting the following websites:
Once a career objective is identified, college major can be identified. Students can visit websites that will help them isolate colleges that do and do not offer their intended major. In Virginia, a popular website for students to visit to identify which Virginia colleges offer their major is www.schev.org. Students can review technical training options available in Virginia at www.knowhowvirginia.org. Students can do the same for colleges outside Virginia at www.collegeboard.com. Students wanting to review curricula at international colleges should visit www.petersons.com.
Once a student has narrowed down colleges to those that offer the intended major, eight additional data points should be considered including:
- matching admissions criteria such as gpa and standardized test scores to personal gpa and test scores
- comparing cost in relation to personal circumstances and needs
- comparing comfort level in the culture of the institution, part of the country or international setting
- comparing support services, food services and living accommodations
- comparing study abroad opportunities
- comparing career placement services
- reviewing institutional policies on freshmen and cars on campus
- comparing campus crime statistics at www.ope.ed.gov/security
Most of the information that students need is on websites for each college. An additional source of information is college visits. Many colleges offer daily tours with no reservations required. Others have specific dates for events such as college open house programs. Open house programs for fall and spring 2010-11 are posted on college websites.