It’s not your imagination: graduation is creeping closer and closer. And whether you can’t wait for the next big step in your life or wish that things would stay the same a little longer, you have some big decisions to make. College and university admission letters are starting to roll in. If you’re lucky enough to be accepted to a few different programs, it’s time to start considering which one to accept. It’s not an easy choice, but it doesn’t have to be impossible, especially if you weigh the following factors.
While you can find success no matter where you decide to go for post-secondary, a program or school that’s highly regarded in your field could give you an edge. This can be tricky to figure out, so here are a few tips. If you know someone working in a role you’d like to be in, ask if they have any opinions about the schools you’re considering. Your guidance counsellor or older friends on a similar path may also be able to shed some light on this. If the program you have in mind has an experiential component, such as co-op placements or internships, this can also help set you apart.
Your program is likely to be at least a few years in length. That’s a long time to spend at a school, and you want to make sure you’ll be comfortable and content. Many larger schools have multiple dining options, upgraded gym facilities, newer libraries, etc. Smaller schools may not have the same amenities but may make up for it in community and small class sizes. There’s no right or wrong answer – take some time to consider what matters the most to you. Don’t forget to consider where the school is located too—is a big-city feel what you’re looking for? Or would you prefer a quieter atmosphere? A campus visit could help answer many of these questions and give you a better sense of what you’re looking for in a school.
The best program for you is one that you’re financially comfortable with. While student loans are pretty typical for many in post-secondary, it’s still worth comparing the fees between your programs of choice. If a less expensive school allows you to graduate without debt, that could be a huge boost as you start your career and live independently. On the other hand, a pricey program could be worth the investment if it can give you a leg up on the competition.
Will you be commuting or living on (or near) campus? Not only will this impact costs, but it’ll make a significant impact on your lifestyle. Commuting usually means staying at home in a familiar environment. Moving away will be a considerable change, but also a much-anticipated one. If you’re thinking of going out of town, consider how often you’d like to return home for visits. Even if you’re staying in your hometown, a long daily commute might wear on you— you may decide you prefer to rent a place closer to your school of choice
Choosing a school—and program—to enroll in after high school can be stressful. It’s a deeply personal choice, so make sure to stay attuned to your preferences and concerns when making this decision. But, no matter what you end up choosing, you can make the best of it, and your new experiences and education have the potential to set you up for success! Good luck!