What to Look for When Choosing a College

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Picking a college? It doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, it can be pretty easy when you look at it from the right perspective. Start by ruling things out, then rule things in, and you'll find that the list of universities you're considering choosing from will be narrower - and more tailored to what you're really looking for. There are several ways to do this, but good, old-fashioned pen and paper work well. You can also make a spreadsheet or list on your computer, if you think that will be easier for you to keep track of. Whatever method works for you is the right one.

Start by Ruling Out Colleges

When you begin your quest to search for a university, consider some specifics, such as:

* How far are you willing to travel as a commute home?
* Do you want to live on campus or off campus?
* What kind of a budget do you have for school?
* Are you certain of your degree program, or are you considering other options?
* Do any of your classes need to be online?
* What do you really intend to do with your degree?
Harvard University student 
Depending on your unique situation, there may be other variables to consider. These are just some of the basics. If you're not willing to fly home on holidays or drive for hours, you'll want to rule out anything that's more than a couple of hundred miles away from your house. Living off campus means you'll need to decrease that radius a lot more, because you'll be driving it each day. Not everyone can afford Harvard or Yale, either, so rule out schools that you simply can't afford.

Online Scholarships, of course, are an exception to the affordability rule. If you think you qualify for them, be sure to apply - but always have a back-up plan. You won't be the only person trying to get into a prestigious school and get an education that you aren't required to pay for. Competition is high, and you don't want to be left without a university to go to if you aren't the one chosen for the scholarship.

Take What's Left and Start Ruling In

When the ruling out phase is over, look carefully at what's left. Examine the degree programs, the faculty's credentials, check to see if it has regionally or nationally accredited college and the requirements for getting into the school. Most state universities are very open and easy to get into. Others are a little more exclusive. Even if the institution doesn't have a strict entrance requirement, it still needs to meet your other criteria for things like affordability and commute - and it still needs to be affordable.

With computers today, it's possible to stay home and earn a degree in your pajamas by taking online classes. Whether you have the discipline to do this is something that only you can decide, so make sure you consider all of your options carefully. Also, remember that completing education takes a lot of work and dedication. Choosing the right school can help you keep your eyes on the prize.

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