College Search

So you've decided to go to college! But which one? Doing a college search online can be daunting. Before you do, you'll want to ask yourself some questions, and then use the college search to answer some other questions to help narrow down the field. Because the right college can make all the difference in your academic career and future, while attending a college that isn't right for you can be a frustrating and negative experience which can hamper and delay your career goals. Finding the right college out of the thousands of colleges and universities in America doesn't have to be difficult.

There are several considerations in choosing a college that suits your needs best. Does the college even offer your desired major? Not all colleges offer every major, so that's the first thing to make sure of. Are both the school and the program you'll be studying well respected? This can make finding a job after graduation much easier. Would you rather attend a college near your home, or far away? You'll need to give that some serious thought. Finding the right college and moving a thousand miles to enroll can be great for some students, but for others, it can lead to a serious case of homesickness. That's something that no college search can answer for you.

College Size

When doing a college search, one of the most important considerations is the size of the school. And in America, you've got your pick, from tiny to humongous. Unity College in Maine is one of the smallest colleges in the country, with a total student body of just over 500. Compare that with the University of Texas's main campus in Austin, America's biggest university, with over 55,000 students enrolled! That's over a hundred times as large as Unity College.

Which is better for you-a small college, or a huge university? That's a decision only you can make, and a lot of it will depend on your personality type. And it's not just a matter of being introverted vs. extroverted-even on a small college campus there will be more people than you can ever get to know well, and you can keep to yourself just fine on the campus of a mega university. Of course, not everything will boil down to personality and individual style. One of the big advantages of the mega universities is the wide variety of majors they can offer. And if your major is one that's not offered at many small schools, odds are you're going to wind up at a big school. And if you're really crazy about college athletics, it's just a fact of life that big schools do much better than small ones in the big NCAA sports. But everything else being equal, it's your call. Some people like the excitement of being part of such a huge organization as Ohio State or Indiana University at Bloomington. There's certainly going to be a much wider variety of options when it comes to socializing, intramural athletics, parties, lectures, meeting new people, etc. It would be a stretch to say there's never a dull moment at a big school, but there certainly are a lot fewer excuses for being bored.

Students On the other hand, some people at big schools come to feel like theyre in a highly competitive, anonymous, pressure cooker environment. They feel alone and surrounded by thousands of strangers, and wonder if they'll ever find a place to fit in. Students at small colleges certainly have some advantages. They're far more likely to be in small classes as opposed to being in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students. They can get to know their professors, and actually be able to talk with them after class. And being on a small campus has more of a cozy, homey feel to it, and many students find that a good thing. They like knowing the names of the most of the people they interact with every day. On the other hand, there are less places to be anonymous at a small school, and sometimes you get tired of seeing the same people every day, and you can feel stifled. So there are advantages and disadvantages to both. When you're choosing a college or distance learning program, give it a lot of thought. Talk to former students, and visit the campus during a normal school week to get the feel of the place. You'll be glad you did.

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  • If you're planning on going to graduate school, you'll need to find out what kind of acceptance rates graduates of the college have. Does the college help you find internships in your field? What are class sizes like? How many classes are actually taught by professors as opposed to teaching assistants? It can be disappointing to arrive at what you thought was just the right college because a well known professor is there, only to discover that they rarely or ever do any actual teaching. These are some of the things you'll want to consider when it comes to finding the right college. Some you can only answer for yourself, but many others can be answered with a little web surfing. Going online and doing a college search can help narrow your choices down considerably when it comes to finding the right college or university.

    Last Updated: 08/20/2013