Whitefield Academy Blog
Choosing a College: Finding the Right Fit
Choosing where you will attend college is a big decision. Consider some of these things to help you narrow down your choices.
A Starting Point
First, it is important to view college not as an admissions prize or a label of prestige but as a path to your future. You do not want to end up at a big name university with no program in your desired areas of study or where you cannot be a part of the campus life and its activities.
Second, make a list of colleges in which you are interested. Keep it under 15 schools and dream big! Remember that many of the top schools offer very generous scholarships to the right candidate, so do not rule out an expensive-looking school because of the advertised tuition costs. Sticker price is not the same as the actual cost of attendance.
What Do You Want?
Think about your own preferences. Would you be comfortable in a school with 150 people in each class or do you prefer something smaller? Do newer buildings impress you or do you prefer something older with character? Is it important for you to be on a Christian campus? Does a liberal arts oriented university fit your needs or would a school with a large engineering program work better? How far away from home do you want to be? Should you be close enough to enable you to travel home on weekends or just Christmas and summer? How is the weather in these locations? Are you miserable in rainy, cold weather or do you live for those days? How is the dorm life at these universities? Is it considered a “party” school? Is there a thriving Christian community on campus? It is a lot to think about, but it will help you narrow your list of schools. Trim the list to 5-10 schools and try to visit as many as possible. Visiting a campus will help you solidify your decisions and preferences.
Elite University Consideration
You may want to consider an elite level school if you are a straight-A student with a high ACT or SAT score and have an abundance of extracurricular activities and leadership. Because of many factors, not just qualifications, elite schools are just that – hard to get in to – even for phenomenal students. You should have alternative choices. An admissions officer for Harvard once explained that 90% of the students who apply to Harvard could go there and be successful; there are simply too few beds to accept everyone. Harvard’s acceptance rate is currently hovering around 5.4%. Stanford’s is 4.8%. Finally, consider why you would like to go to an Ivy League university. Is it only about the prestige?
Small or Large, Private or State School
There are many different types of schools available to you. Explore all options. Do not let preconceived notions about atmosphere or financial constraints limit your perspective! Visit as many different campuses as you can, ask questions of students and admissions representatives, pray, get advice from your teachers, parents, and counselor, and then, ultimately, come to your own conclusion about where you belong.
Consider Christian and Secular Colleges
Some students who attended Christian high schools say they are not interested in attending a Christian college because they want their college experience to be different from their high school experience. First, know that your college experience will be very different from high school no matter where you choose to go to school. College is, in part, about personal growth, independence and learning, and you should pick a school that is a good fit for you both academically and spiritually. The right school for you should help you find your calling – not just your career or a job. Seek out the Christian community-fellowship groups or Bible studies if you attend a secular school. Scriptures to consider and apply to your college search: Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, 1 John 5:14, 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Apply to the schools which best suit and most attract you. Submit applications to between three and ten schools. There should be at least one school on the list that has the programs you want, is affordable with no financial aid, will likely accept you, and that seems like you will be happy there. This is your sure-thing school. There should be one school that is competitive in acceptance. This is your possibility school. And then finally, you should have one that is perhaps far-reaching in acceptance rate and finances – this is your dream school. Once you get your acceptances, speak with your parents, pray, and ultimately make your decision. You have four exciting years ahead of you!