Finding the Right College


by Michelle Arcos

San Jose State University

Photo courtesy of

We have highlighted the importance of a higher education, and how to fund it. Now I want to focus and stress on the benefits and importance to making sure you choose the right college for you to attend and pursue your education. Choosing where you want to go to college is an extremely personal decision, that you and your families tend to make together. So, how can this article help you? This article’s intent is to give you a framework that will help you choose the college that is right for you.

First, start researching as early as you can! If you already have the dream of going to college, then start making that dream a reality by learning about the different types of colleges. For example, here in California we have several college systems and institutions. They range from public to private universities, to community colleges, and trade schools that focus on certain skills to perform a particular job.  There are three things I think every student should take into consideration when choosing a school to attend; they are location, majors offered and finding if the school is a right fit for you.

Location: Location, location, location. That is a phrase we always hear, and in the case of choosing the right college for you this may be a major factor. The great thing about college is there are various campuses worldwide. Whether you want to stay close to home, or go to a different state or county, there is sure to be a campus that fits your needs. With that you are offered many settings as well, from city to rural areas, or right along the beach. College is a time to explore and meet new people. It is not the number of people, but the people themselves and the kind of community in which you will learn that really matters.

Majors: Determine what you might like to study or major in at college. Yes, many students enter college as “undecided,” and that’s fine, but if you have some idea of a career or a major, that information can help in finding colleges that offer (and even specialize) in that field. You might like to try some career assessment tests to help you with this step.

Fit: Choose a college you can see yourself going to. Finding a good fit requires time and thoughtfulness. You can start by, visiting college web sites and learning about what events take place, and if you have interest in them. It is also good to set up a campus tour, and when you visit, try to sit in on classes, eat in the dining hall and hang around in the student center or other high-traffic areas. That will help you imagine yourself as part of the community.

List of criteria’s to help you evaluate a college:

  • degrees offered
  • majors/minors
  • location (rural or urban setting)/distance from home
  • size of the student population (from small at 1,000 to large at 35,000+)
  • public vs. private
  • costs (tuition, room and board, etc.)
  • financial assistance packages
  • campus resources (labs, libraries, computer access, etc.)
  • graduation rate/time
  • placement success/internship and co-op programs
  • accreditation
  • class size
  • safety (campus, community)
  • student body (diversity, gender, etc.)
  • social life (Greek organizations, sports, school spirit, etc.)
  • religious affiliation/independent
  • housing options (dorms, apartments, living at home)

Helpful sites to help you choose a college:

Michelle Arcos is a senior majoring in Human Communications at CSUMB, from French Camp, CA. She currently works at CSUMB for an outreach program called Educational Talent Search, and her job entails serving as a college advisor for students at Seaside High. She loves to travel, attend concerts and cultural festivals. She plans to spend the summer traveling to several cities in the U.S.