Steering into Your Best College Choice

2320257051_a7d1f69562Some of the best colleges are like a classic Ferrari roadster.  A college education at an Ivy League school, much like having a Ferrari, will never go out of style, it has a great reputation, and although it might be expensive, it seems worth every penny.  But is it the best college for you?  What are the most important factors for you to consider when selecting your future school?

The fact that driving a sports car makes you immediately appear to belong in the ranks of the rich and famous makes it seem worth it. This is the same motivation some people have for choosing which college to attend. But, there are a lot of other reasons for going to college. Besides improving your reputation, underlying benefits exist.

Whatever your reasons are for continuing your education, or how you hope to benefit from your achievement, you are presented with a plethora of choices.  How do you know which is the best college for you?

How Important is a College’s Reputation?
According to Forbes Best Colleges list of 600 undergraduate institutions, the best colleges are based on educational outcome, not reputation.  Schools like Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, U Penn, Princeton and Yale have stringent admissions criteria and draw some of the smartest minds, and some schools are also famous for their sports programs, such as the University of Texas (Longhorns), Ohio State (Buckeyes), or UCLA (BRUINS).  However, these are based upon reputation, not the quality of the education.

What Factors Contribute to Educational Outcomes?
The educational outcomes at some of the best colleges in the United States are based on a school’s faculty (the quality of the teachers is very high on the list), career prospects for its students, graduation rates, and the expense of tuition.  Today, many of the best colleges offer special programs for the military and students who fall into the middle class category (such as MCAP at UCLA) which can make attending more affordable.

What Additional Factors Should You Consider?
Of course, every student’s situation is different.  A perfect fit for you may not resonate the same with your classmate.  Think about the location of the school and how far you want to be away from home.  Consider extracurricular activities available and how you plan to spend your time outside of the classroom.  Speaking of classrooms, would you prefer classes of about 30 or giant lecture halls?  The size of the student body at the school you select will play a major factor in the amount of in-class attention you receive.

Weigh each of your answers to these questions and it will surely steer you in the right direction, ultimately leading to the best college for you.

Westface College Planning can help navigate the financial aid process from start to finish.  To learn how we can help, call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

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