First of all, congratulations. After months of essay writing, test taking, and filling out forms, the acceptance letters are finally rolling in (and maybe some rejections, but who cares about those. Their loss!). Take a minute to enjoy the well deserved sense of accomplishment - you, yes you, are going to college! However, you’re not quite there yet. There’s one last tough decision: which school should you pick?
You clearly like having your options open - it’s why you applied to as many schools as you did. So for those of you who don’t know exactly where to go, here are some things you might want to consider.
College can be expensive - the cost of attendance will likely have to play a central role in your school choice. We recommend that before you consider all other factors, you check the net costs of each option and rank them. Luckily, you can use your Fizz card on any campus, so that won’t need to factor into your decision.
Remember, you want to look at the full price of attendance, not just the tuition! Include the price of housing and transportation as well as the general living expenses in the area. Of course, you’ll also want to factor in any financial aid offers or discounts as well. If you received multiple financial aid packages, you might be able to leverage them to get other schools to upgrade their respective offers.
It also might be a good idea to check the average salary of the graduates of a given school. If one school is slightly more expensive, but on average its degrees render higher earnings, it might be worth the additional investment. If you have a specific dream job, one interesting thing to to do might be to check Linkedin to see where people that recently graduated went on to work.
Academics & major
Sure, studying for midterms might not be the most romantic vision of your time in college. That said, academics should obviously be a big part of your college choice! You shouldn't make a decision based on an arbitrary ranking, but you definitely should try to understand the academics of the school in question. Do they have the majors you’re interested in? Do they offer a wide variety of classes? Is it easy to switch or combine majors? These are all important questions.
It’s also important to consider the teaching style at the school in question. Do they tend to have large lectures, or are most classes seminar style? Do all professors teach undergraduates, or are many singularly focused on their research? One way to test this is to email some professors you find interesting, tell them you are a prospective student, and gauge their responses. You can even try giving them a call if you're feeling bold.
The fact that location matters is kind of obvious - if you thrive in the sun and can’t live without it, it might not be a good idea to go to school in the northeast. But we think there are some interesting nuances to consider. For instance, make sure you explore the percentage of in-state and local students versus out-of-state and international students.
It’s also a good idea to consider your surroundings. What food options are present around campus? Is campus near a big city? How easy is it to get home? There’s a big difference between a three-hour flight and a three-hour drive. Then you can start to decide what kind of an environment is important to you. This step tends to be particularly helpful when it comes to narrowing down your choice.
Are you the party or late night library type? Are you super passionate about college football, debate, or student journalism? Are you excited to join Greek life? Before you pick your school you should learn more about what life is like on campus. We hate to break it to you, but glossy school websites and brochures are definitely not the best resource to turn to.
While the single best way to learn more is to go on a visit, not everyone can visit every school on their list. If you’re feeling bold, reach out on social to a current student from the school and ask them about their experience. Better yet, find someone you know who goes to the school and ask them. People are usually pretty down to talk about college, so don’t be shy!
But most importantly
If you can, go with your gut and commit. This decision is yours and yours alone - it shouldn’t be dependent upon friends or even family legacy. College is a new chapter, and you’re going to have a wonderful time whatever school you decide on as long as you go in with an open mind.
If planning for college is on your mind, and we’re sure it is, sign up for Fizz, the student debit card that helps your build credit and prepare for your financial future. We’ll be here every step of the way with guidance on every part of the college experience.