October 11, 2011 | | Leave a comment Apparently, a lot of students choose colleges because of the weather, because it’s where their boyfriend/girlfriend is going or other reasons that have nothing to do with the education the college provides. While you may not realize it as a high school junior or senior, when you choose a college, you should choose it for the education it provides. Find out what you should be looking for in a college because of the education and overall college experience it can offer you. The Major You Want to Pursue One of the great things about heading off to college is that you get to explore who you are and what types of areas you like so that you can choose a major and a career path. For some students, this is the perfect way for you to take some different classes and narrow down your options, so you can declare a major when it’s time. Then there are those that have some idea what to study and what career path to pursue. Whichever type of student you are, it is imperative that you review the types of classes the college or university offers before you have to declare a major. If you are not sure which major you want to pursue, then verify that there are classes on the schedule that will allow you to try some different areas out. If you know what career path you are on, then make sure that you have the right to choose classes during your first few years of study to apply to that career path, and even test it out to make sure it is the major you want to declare. For example, one student started out wanting to be a child psychologist. After taking a few psychology classes as electives while earning her associate’s degree, she decided that psychology was not something that held her interest. She found instead that it was her business and marketing courses that held her interest, so she ended up declaring her major in business instead of psychology. Choosing Classes vs. Preset Curriculum Look at how the curriculum for the college or university is set up. This is especially true for the time when you have declared your major and are working toward your specialty. Some schools allow students to choose their own classes. While there may be some guidelines on which classes you have to choose, you can choose from a certain amount of electives and a certain amount of required courses, so that you can create a semester schedule that works for you. Other colleges and universities have a preset curriculum and schedule of classes. Each semester, the college or university tells the students in the program which classes they are taking and when. Nothing is wrong with either type of curriculum. You just have to make sure that it is a set up that works for your goals and promotes the best learning environment for you. College Reputation You should review two parts of the reputation of the college. First, you should consider the overall reputation of the quality of the education the college or university provides. Look at statistics that include: How many freshmen enter the college How many change schools How many graduate This is one way to gauge the school reputation. You should also make a campus visit and talk with some of the students, the professors and the other campus staff to get a feeling for the overall vibe. Second, you should consider the college reputation for your chosen course of study. Numerous publications rate colleges and universities each year, based on various factors, but one is the area of study that the college is best at delivering. For example, some schools are well known as top-notch business schools, while others are best-known for pre-med for pre-med majors. Financial Aid Help Another consideration when choosing a college is the amount of financial aid help or the type of financial aid that the college can offer you. In light of a very tough lending environment, if you need help paying your way through college, this is a factor that requires some investigation. The Next Steps You should also look into the pre-graduate and after-graduate resources the college offers. Not only do you want to choose a college for the education it provides to put you on your career path, but you also want the college to have resources that prepare you to look for a job after you’ve graduated. Choosing a college is an important decision. It’s a decision you should make on what the college offers you in the way of education, rather than incidentals that won’t make or break your career in the future.