It’s one of the most important decisions in every student’s life, but no one seems willing to help. No one will tell you where they’d choose, or everyone tells you to choose the one you don’t want... how do you make your mind up, anyway? Choosing a college can be stressful and put you off college for good, so here are my ten things to check to choose the best college for you.
1. Previous Students
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What did the old students think? Did they love the course? Or were they dying to leave? While you must take everyone’s opinion with a pinch of salt, the general idea will show you how happy to are likely to be as a student there.
2. What Courses Are There?
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It’s important to look at what courses they offer, even if you are sure they offer the one you want. Offering journalism will mean they have a college newspaper you could work on, having an English tutor around will make getting essay advice easier. Look at what they offer, and what they don’t.
3. What Are Your Hobbies?
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Think about what you enjoy doing. Do you love ice skating, or are you desperate to try rock climbing? Think about past, present and future hobbies, and see which colleges fit them in. Not all colleges will offer all sports, and you don’t want to end up at one which can’t cater for you.
4. What Are Your Talents?
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What are you good at? This might not necessarily be your hobbies, so it deserves some thought on its own. Are you an excellent photographer or writer? Then make sure your college has a newspaper, and you will gain some valuable experience from it.
5. Where do You Want to Be in Five Years?
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What do you want to be writing in your diary five years from today? Will going to this college make it happen? Think about it from all angles. Once you are sure, write down your dream, and put it in your purse. This will be a great motivator when the going gets tough!
6. How Helpful Are the Staff?
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Speak to reception, the cleaners and the guild staff. Get a feel to how happy and helpful they are, and whether they have time to talk to you. You’ll spend a lot of time interacting with these people, so they do matter!
7. What Are the Professors like?
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Make a meeting with your future lecturers, and talk to them about the course. Ask questions, and see how willing to help they are. Consider if they have time to talk, if they sound knowledgeable and what they have to say. This person will get a big say in your final grade, so if you don’t get on, it could be catastrophic.
8. How is Freshers Organized?
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How well are events organized? Has the college put a lot of effort into making sure everything is simple and fun, or do they not care about new students? Attend a few different days and see how well the college is doing at making new people feel settled and welcome.
9. Practical Things
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Is their accommodation close by, and what financial support is there? If you have disabilities, do they have the right facilities? Is there a variety of food? The practical things are important, so tick off any that don’t meet your requirements.
10. Search Online...
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Finally, once you’ve got down to the final few, see what you can find out online. Look at league tables, forums and student groups. See what other people think, and if others are deciding to go for your course.
Once you’ve found the ones that completely match you, choose your favourite, or tell the options to family and friends and ask for their advice. You can always attend more than one open day, or phone up with more questions... just make sure you make the right decision for you! Have you got a tip for choosing a college, or have you already chosen your college? Please let me know where you are going!
Top Photo Credit: Ned Lyttelton