Home > Students > How to Pick the Right College

Comments 0 Comments

College is a time of self-discovery, intellectual adventure and social exposure — but not every school is right for every student. Preparing for higher education involves long-term saving, hard work and lots of research. When you are entering the final stretch of high school, the time has come to make a decision. Picking which university is the best fit is no easy task, so here is some help with what important factors you should consider when weighing college options.

Location

Location is not just the key when it comes to buying real estate. When it comes to choosing a college, it’s a good idea to find one that feels like the right emotional and geographical fit. Think about how close (or far) you prefer to be from home and whether you like the bustle of a city, tranquillity of rural living or somewhere in between. It’s important to also think about the weather in each location in case you can’t stand a long winter or melt in the heat.

Cost

We all know college is expensive, so, for most people, cost is a major part of the decision. While a full ride to the perfect institution may seem like an impossible dream, it’s a good idea to look into state universities, scholarships, grants, financial aid and work-study opportunities. Calculate potential student loans for different schools and remember to include room and board when forming your budgets. The cost of college nowadays is staggering, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you accept an admissions officer.

A good rule of thumb experts recommend is to avoid borrowing more than you expect to make as a salary in your first year out of college. Your student loans can have a major impact on your credit, which can delay your homebuying dreams or keep you from seizing other opportunities while you’re weighed down by debt. You can see how student loans impact your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

Size

Think about how you felt in high school — did you feel smothered by how everyone knew each other or overwhelmed and lost in the masses? It’s a good idea to analyze the overall size of the school. This is where campus visits can be especially helpful in making the decision.

Faculty

Another metric to look into is the student-to-faculty ratio to see how accessible professors will likely be. Your experience will be greatly shaped by what classrooms are like (large lecture halls or small discussion groups) and who is teaching you (teaching assistants vs. professors).

Post-Graduate Opportunities

Consider the percentage of students who get a job right after graduating. Some schools have better access to internships, job placement programs, on-campus recruitment and more extensive, involved alumni networks.

Safety

Safety statistics are an important metric for students and their families. Research how protected students are from crimes and how the university police and security systems operate.

Student Life

From on-campus dorms to study-abroad opportunities, greek life, meal plans, transportation, sports participation, party life, demographics, club and organization branches, there’s a lot going on at most college campuses. The school’s website can help, as can speaking to students, to get the best idea about how daily life at prospective schools match your personality and goals.

Accreditation & Quality

It can be a good idea to look at your school’s reputation in your intended study topic, in addition to overall. If you are not sure about your major, it’s a good idea to be sure there are plenty of programs with good reputations and extracurricular opportunities that could work.

Looking for a college that fits all your needs and desires may be difficult and overwhelming, but this is an important investment in your future. Pick the factors are most important to you and you can choose the college that’s right for you.

More on Student Loans:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team