How to Find the Right College: Stay Open-Minded
Do you need help finding the right college? In this livestream clip, CollegeVine advisor Ronni Shaw talks about how open-mindedness and exploration can help you discover your preferences and narrow down your options. For more school search guidance from Ronni, see the full livestream: Building Your Perfect School List.
As you look for colleges, figure out the criteria that are most important to you
The first step to finding a good school is to figure out what you think you’ll like, and narrow down some of the big criteria. Try to imagine the kinds of schools that you might be interested in. Ask yourself: Do you want to be in a city? Do you want to be where the weather is warm? How close to home do you want to be? What is your ideal college size?
Do a little research, go online, and take some school visits virtually.
Then, explore all school types — even those you don’t like
It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s very useful to explore schools that you don’t necessarily think you’ll like.
Let’s say you presume you want a city school. Take some virtual visits to some suburban campuses or even some rural campuses and see how you feel about them. If you want to go in person, you don’t have to travel far to do this: You can go on some school visits to schools that are close to where you live.
If you know what a huge state school feels like, for example, it will help you decide whether you want a small liberal arts school, or vice versa. Exploring all the options helps you develop a detailed sense of what types of colleges are out there.
Ask your friends and family for college advice
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your college search, it’s also very helpful to be open to opinions from family and friends. By being open minded to feedback from others, you’ll discover different college types, places, locations that you might not have considered.
Whether that’s your parents or the parents of your friends, aunts, uncles, your fellow students – find people who know you well. They might have college choices in mind for you already.
When you talk to your friends and family, ask them: “Why do you see me there?” “What is it about that school that makes you think of me?” Be open to those new ideas.
People who know you may see you in a way that you don’t see yourself, helping you discover new preferences. You may not end up taking their suggestions, but you’ll learn something about yourself and you’ll learn of some new schools. You can take these learnings and apply them to similar schools.