Going to college is one of the most important stages of our lives as it is the first time that we will leave the family home and will have to fend for ourselves. Sure, there will be pastoral care at college and you will have a strong friendship group around you, but it is not quite the same as knowing that you will have a meal on the table at the end of every day, and a hug from mum during the tough times. The most important aspect of college, however, is the education that you will receive, as this will dictate your future career prospects and the direction you will take in life. This means that choosing the right college is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make. To make your life easier we are now going to take a look at how best to choose a college so that you are best placed to receive the education that you deserve.

What do you want from a college?

The first thing you must ask yourself is what you actually want and expect from a college because there is no point paying a fortune in fees if you’re going to spend three years disappointed. Is the particular course you want to study the most important aspect or the reputation of the university as a whole? What about location, are you going to be happy moving from east to west coast, where it will be difficult to see your family and there are long travelling times involved? Do you want to be involved in a particular sports team or society that you cannot find elsewhere? All these questions need to be answered before you can start to make a decision between colleges.

Make a list of pros and cons

When weighing up different colleges it is often extremely useful to draw up a list of pros and cons for each college. It is highly unlikely that you will find a college that ticks all the boxes, so finding one that offers the majority of things you are looking for is likely to be your best bet. There are plenty of tools that can help you narrow down your decision, and experts from Authority.org recommend that you take a look at some ranking lists so that you can easily compare the features of certain colleges against each other. Once you have considered all the salient details you can then narrow your choices down to one or two colleges before you make your final decision. 

Visit colleges on your shortlist

There is no better way to make a decision about the colleges on your shortlist than actually going and visiting them. You will be able to get a better picture of what campus life is like and how professional the teaching is. You can even meet current students and talk to them about their experiences and whether they would recommend the college to others or not. If you are into sports you can go and watch teams train or even play in a match. The surrounding area is also important. Is it easy to get to? What local amenities are there, and what is the climate like? All these questions can be answered with a visit to your prospective colleges and then these answers will help you narrow down your choice further.

Go with your gut feeling 

Sometimes after hours of analysis, and countless trips to visit different colleges, you may still be none the wiser and in a quandary about which of the colleges on your shortlist to plump for. Don’t worry as this is perfectly normal, you are making a big decision in your life. It is likely though that you have a gut feeling about one of the colleges and if so you should go with this feeling, as often it can be telling you something. You might have fallen in love with the style of the campus, or one college offers the exact course that you have always dreamed of studying. Whatever it is, roll with it, and then don’t look back, you can head to that college safe in the knowledge that you have done all the research possible. 
As we have learned it is important to be thorough when deciding on a particular college. Work out what you want and then draw up a list of pros and cons. Consult ranking lists and then narrow your options down to two or three. Go and visit the colleges in person and talk to students, as opinions from third parties really do make a huge difference. After all of this, if you still haven’t made a decision, then go with your gut feeling as it is not often wrong. You will then be well set to give yourself the best education and career start possible, and you will spend three years thoroughly enjoying college life, rather than wishing you’d picked another school.    


Daria Brown