Looking for the Right College/University

When should you start looking? Now! No matter if you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, or even a senior. You can never know too much about colleges. Starting now is the perfect time.

Enrolling in a college or university is a long and expensive commitment. To be more exact, the traditional route is at least 4 years and it can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $200,000! Understanding how big this decision is, it is extremely important to look at all your options so that you are happy with your time and financial commitment. We do strongly advise you to give special attention to this process. Below you will find some considerations for looking for the right college.

Typically, colleges and universities will accept students on two different student statuses: “in-state” student and “out-of-state” student. Is this important? Yes, big time! The biggest difference is on the cost of tuition (that is, the classes, labs, and fees attached to attending the college). When you have a status of Out-of-State, you will pay about 3 times more than a student that has a status of In-State student. For example, to attend Indiana University - Bloomington, tuition for a student who resides in the state of Indiana is $10,000+. However, for a student who resides out of the state of Indiana and is planning to attend Indiana University - Bloomington, the tuition is $33,000+. We are not even including the estimated costs for Room & Board, books, and possibly transportation. Which could easily add up to an additional $12,000.

Colleges and universities will consider you to have an “in-state” status when you reside in the state of your college choice for longer than 2 years. A big note to self here is that it does not mean that you can’t apply for a college until you have been in the state for 2 years. What you need to keep in mind is that you will need to have lived in the state for more than 2 years by the time when your college classes start. For example, you have moved to Indiana from California 1 year ago. You are a rising senior in high school and is going to college after you graduate. Although you have lived in Indiana for only 1 year, and you still have your senior year to finish, by the time you graduate from high school and start college you will have lived in Indiana for at least 2 years. Therefore, when you fill out your college applications while in your senior year, you could check the box that says “in-state” student. Checking one simple box could save you big time money!

Of course choosing the right college for you cannot be only decided on the money matter, although it is a big component to a better stable life upon graduation from your alma mater. Other pretty important factors to consider, and can be found at www.collegeboard.org under College Search, are Majors, Campus, Student Life, Size of University, Additional Costs, and Studying Abroad opportunities.


Another way, and likely the most important one, to finding the perfect or ideal college for you is browsing for colleges that offer the major you intend to pursue. If unfamiliar to you, a major is the degree you will choose to focus on and have upon graduating from the college you attend. There are hundreds of majors. Some examples of majors are English, Economics, Marketing, Civil Engineering, Sociology, etc.

Upon choosing your major, you can search for colleges that offer your chosen major. Typically, students want to go to the best university their academic performance can get them into. In this link https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search?navid=gh-cs, you can find majors in two categories: Family of Majors or Specific Major. Once you have decided which one, select the major or category and explore your options. Likely, hundreds of colleges will show up as a result of your major choice. Take your time and read through some of their information and requirements to be eligible for admission.

University: Location & Size

There are many studies out there that show us that our surroundings, our environment, and the ambiance we are live in has an influence on the way we think and act. Your surroundings can help you up, or can bring you down. Thus it is to your advantage to choose your college wisely, for you will feel how it can play a role in your college years. To this point, then, it is important to research on the location and size of your college choice.

After you made your decision whether you are going to college in-state or out-of-state, you need to consider university/college you plan to attend. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  1. Is it located in a small/big city?

  2. Is it in a rural, urban or suburban setting?

  3. Is it primarily a residential campus (students live on campus) or commuter campus?

  4. Is it public or private?

  5. How big/small is it?

If you are having a hard time finding the answers to these question, visit www.collegeboard.org.

Before making the final decision to enrolling in a college, try going on a campus tour/visit. From the experience, you will get a great feel for whether you should put that college on your top college choices.

How Do I Make the Final Decision?

As you have previously stated, making the final choice on the college or university you will attend is a long and expensive commitment. You must do your research. Choose about 7 universities for your own reasons and then measure them against these questions:

  1. Does it offer the major I intend to pursue? How reputable is it?

  2. How much does tuition cost? How about Room & Board? Any additional expenses?

  3. What is its location setting and size?

  4. What is the student life like?

Two points to consider:

  1. Many students ignore the fact college loans will follow them for many years after they graduate, only to realize then that they have to pay it back. Upon graduation, in addition to your loans, you will likely have rent/mortgage, utility bills, car payments, cell phone payments, TV cable, Internet, gas, food and entertainment. Make a wise decision and be ready to stand behind your decision.

  2. College is highly about performing well, for it will open many doors to great careers after graduation. However, have some responsible fun. After all, we are here to enjoy life. So no need to put a hold on life while attending college. Responsibly enjoy the ride. Get together with new friends, go to a school play, go on trips, do intramural sports, be part of the choir. Enjoy it!

There you have it. Now you are a bit more familiar on how to approach selecting the college you will soon enroll.

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