Choosing the right college involves more than just considering the basic criteria like college majors, financial aid options, and physical location.
What is not often discussed in high school is the importance of choosing a college that is a good fit for your personality.
During the college application process it is critical to consider additional factors such as the school’s demographics, class schedules, dorm conditions, student organizations, available majors, support services, and neighboring towns. These factors will become more important to you as you begin to spend time on campus.
Make the Right Choice
If you enroll at a college that does not meet your psychological needs, you are more likely to feel frustrated and unhappy over time. This could lead to disengagement, poor academic performance, an early dropout, or a loss in college credits if you ultimately decide to transfer. In order to avoid future issues and find a college that matches your interests, preferences, and personal style, you have to do a little more research.
Do not rely on the admissions counselors alone, it is their job to persuade you to enroll. Visit the college website, review social media accounts created by student groups, and talk to students directly about their experience.
Get ahead of the game by answering the following questions before making your final decision:
- What are the conditions of the dorms? Is it easy to get housing?
- What clubs and extracurricular activities are available at the college? Is there active student participation?
- Is there adequate entertainment in the neighboring towns? Is reliable public transportation available?
- What is the make-up of the faculty and student body? Which racial and ethnic groups are represented?
- If I decide to change majors, are there other viable options that match my interests?
- What are the class schedules and formats? How easy is it to change classes if I am not satisfied with my original decision?
- Are there comprehensive support services for students with mental and physical health needs?
- What is the attrition rate?
- How does each school on my list compare?
Tools To Help You Identify What You Want
There are many tools available that are designed to help identify your interests, personality traits, preferences and personal style. The Strong Interest Inventory (SII), Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential (MAPP) test and Adjective Check List (ACL) are personality tests commonly utilized by guidance counselors in order to help students develop self-awareness during educational planning. The SII can help you identify extracurricular interests, the MAPP test can help you choose a career and a life plan and the ACL will provide detailed information about your personality traits and preferences. These assessments are free, or low-cost, and are available online. Though your results will be provided directly to you, it is recommended that you review the reports with a school counselor to avoid confusion.
You have already invested your time and effort into preparing for college. Taking a few extra steps to ensure that the college you select is a good match for your personality will save you from heartache down the road and help foster a better college experience.
Assessment.com (2014). MAPP career assessment test. Retrieved from [assessment.com] (http://www.assessment.com)
Case, J. C., & Blackwell, T. L. (2008). Review of 'Strong Interest Inventory®, Revised Edition. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 51(2), 122-126.
Gough, H. G., & Heilbrun, A. B. (2007). The adjective check list. Retrieved from mindgarden.com