5 Tips for Picking the College That's Right for You

Beth Bryce
Director of Career Services ADP & DeVos
Adult Degree Building, Michigan Campus
bethk@northwood.edu
(989)837-4162

by Beth Bryce
Director of Career Services, Northwood University

As a Director of Career Services, I find deciding which college is right for you is much like researching a potential employer: it’s not so much about can you get in but, rather, is it the right fit for you? Take note, whether it’s your college career or real career, you are investing in your future, so choose wisely. Make sure you set yourself up for success and happiness with these five tips:

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1. Read testimonials

Review websites, just like Yelp and Angie’s List, exist for higher education too. Search for and read student reviews to get a sense of what life is really like at a school—beyond what they tell you in an official campus visit.

2. Explore college websites

Turn to a university’s media, alumni, and student services webpages to read up on the latest faculty accolades, program highlights, fast facts, featured alumni, past and future events, student life, career services, and the university’s blog, if they have one. You’ll be sure to get a sense of their definition of success, what’s valued within the university and its culture. Then ask yourself, Do your values align with theirs?

3. Follow social media updates

Follow colleges’ complete social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube. They provide quick and effective insight into the benefits and culture of the school. You’ll also encounter informative dialogues between the college and current students, parents, and other stakeholders. 

4. Find the college town that suits your personality

What’s important to you where you live, study, and play—not to mention potentially work after graduation? Make a list of your location needs and wants, from weather to local businesses to proximity to good Brazilian food. If you’re stumped, Find Your Spot offers a handy and fun tool (though you need to create a free account) that will show you the top 10 cities and towns that match your preferences; criteria include things like size of city, climate, culture, proximity to an airport, crime, and sporting events, just to name a few. You can then do in-depth research on surrounding higher education institutions. Imagine studying in your dream location, graduating, and then staying put. 

5. Create your own college rankings system

Forget about the national “best colleges” lists. Instead, create your own college rankings to determine which schools best meet your unique criteria. Just as with college location, think about what you need and want from a school: majors, extracurricular activities, research opportunities, Greek life—anything! Need a little help? Michelle Kretzschmar, who has a background in data analysis (and a student in college), has a wonderful college blog and a valuable college spreadsheet that can help you find schools based on your own criteria to get the information you need to find the best college for you. It features over 1,500 public and nonprofit colleges and 200 variables.

See the full article on CollegeXpress.com

Related pages: Career Services, Academics, Student Life


ABOUT NORTHWOOD UNIVERSITY

Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at two full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida and mid-Michigan. Adult Degree Programs are available in seven states with many course delivery options including online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan, Texas and Florida. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.