Make a list of things you are looking for in an institution

Take a second to think about things you really enjoyed about college. Then, apply that to what you want to continue seeing in your next school. Some of these could include extracurricular activities, size of classes, specific degree plans, you name it. You’ve had four years to figure out what you like and what stresses you out. Now is your time to decide what you want to keep doing or never do again!

Talk to people who have actually been to the schools you are interested in

Sure, any tour guide or counselor is going to tell you why their school is the best choice for you. That’s a given. Try finding someone who actually graduated from there to answer the real questions you’ve been dying to know. If that person is still a student, ask if you could sit in on a class with them. You’ll get a real glimpse of what it would be like there. Don’t know anyone from that school? Don’t worry! You can always call the school directly to talk with someone in student affairs who can find a student for you!

Think about long term goals and what you actually want to study

Not every school is created equal, i.e. they don’t all offer the exact same degree plans. Be sure to do your research on different programs and make sure what you want to study is specifically offered at that school. Also, some schools are ranked higher for different departments. If you want to go to the best medical school or P.A. school in America, you might want to google “top medical and P.A. schools in the nation”, for example. 

Do you truly want to live there?

Can you see yourself enjoying that town for the next few years? Does it have the community you are looking for? Consider what you love about the city you are in right now and what you want to see more of. If having a hospital close by is important to you, you might not like the idea of the nearest one being forty-five minutes away at a rural institution. What about climate? Are you thinking about moving to Buffalo or Seattle? Do you like ice or overcast skies? Type of area – small town vs. suburb vs. big city is definitely something to weigh in the mix. Culture shock is real.

It is a little nerve-wracking thinking about where you’re going to likely spend the next four years of your life. If you can’t decide, go back to the basics and make a pro and con comparison list. Above are all things to consider, and if you sit down and think about it instead of making a last minute decision, it will help you feel more comfortable and keep your mind at ease. 

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