There’s more to college than what happens in the classroom, but higher education is why you’re going to college. Your first priority should be to make sure the schools on your list have the programs and majors you want because not all college majors are offered at every school. Consider the academic structure in relation to other factors, since college academics play a big part in defining the campus vibe. (For example, you’re not likely to find many chemistry majors at an art school.) Think about what you’re into, and let it guide your college search.
Choosing college programs is mostly a matter of degrees
Sometimes it’s easy to forget, but one of the main reasons you go to college is to get your degree! What is your objective? Are you planning on going straight through to a doctorate at the same school, or is an associate degree or professional certification enough to meet your goals? Know what you’re aiming for so you know which schools to cross off your list.
A college major will be a major issue for you
If you know what field you want to go into, it's a good idea to identify the college programs that will best prepare you for your chosen profession. Some schools are particularly well-known for specific disciplines, like architecture. Going to one of those schools will help you get a job in your specific field when you graduate. However, if you’re not so sure about what you want to do, then it’s smart to choose a school that offers many college degree programs, since you'll have some time to explore them.
College academics vary from school to school
Many schools require that you take classes in a wide range of areas during your first year or two. These schools are great if you’re looking for a well-rounded education or if you’re still trying to figure out where you want to focus your studies. There are also schools that allow you to dive into classes in your chosen college major without first meeting a lot of other requirements. If you know what you want and you don’t want to waste any time, a school structured this way may be better suited for you.
Special college programs and services might help you decide
In today’s diverse world, many schools offer special programs that can enable you to complete school faster. Other programs may accommodate particular needs that you have. At some schools, unique opportunities exist that can enrich your learning experience, help shave college costs, or assist in easing your transition into life after college. Available options can range from accelerated degree courses to college programs for the learning disabled. As you research your schools, consider whether or not some of the following features may be useful to you:
Quicker degree completion
- Accelerated degree programs
- AP credit
- CLEP credit
Special academic programs
- Online learning
- Double majors
- Independent study
- Student-designed majors
- Study abroad
Career services programs
Special student services
- Off-campus study
Programs for students with learning disabilities
- Academic programs
- Assisted learning
When searching for a college, the goal is to find a place where you’ll learn and grow, academically and personally. Making sure you’re looking for the right college programs is an essential part of the process of finding the college that is right for you.