How to Pick a School that Works for You
Deciding which post-secondary institution to attend is easily one of the most difficult decisions you may face in your lifetime. If you find yourself scattered and unsure of where to begin, just think of PED: Program, Environment, and Distance. This is a useful technique that can help you organize your thoughts and carefully lay out the important factors.
Program: The very first thing you should do when picking a school is question whether they have the program that is right for you. A common mistake that students tend to make is to pick a school based on its overall reputation as opposed to the reputation of its programs. A school could be ranked at the top of all the major lists but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best for whatever program you intend on enrolling in. If you’re the type of person who refers to ranking lists, make sure these lists are program specific. If you can find a way to do so, talk to students who are actually enrolled in the programs you’re considering and discuss any concerns you may have. They’re likely to be very honest with you and you can get some insider-info that you won’t find in the fancy brochures.
Environment: Believe it or not, your surroundings can have a major impact on how well you do in university or college. I’m the type of person who needs a refreshing walk when I get stressed so it was important for me to choose a school that had a beautiful campus. For some, old-style traditional buildings and scenic walkways will do the trick. For others, modern buildings and high-tech facilities are a must. Keep in mind that many schools have a good balance of both! Also take a look at the environment outside of the school’s campus and ask yourself if you’d prefer to be located in a big city or something with more of a suburban feel. If you plan on living off campus in upper years, this could be a bit of a deal-breaker for you.
Distance: One of the most difficult things about going away for school is being away from your family and friends. If you’ve got tight-knit relationships, going too far away from your support system may be too much to handle. And that’s ok. You might not even have to leave home if you’d prefer to commute. However, if you’re determined to leave the nest you should always pause to consider how often you intend to visit home (if at all). If you’re making many trips, things can become quite costly if you live hours away from home. The important thing here is to speak to your parents or guardians and figure out a system that works best for everyone. Before you do this, though, have an honest think-session with yourself and decide what’s most important for you. If independence is key, be prepared to negotiate and do quite a bit of reassuring.
Each school you consider is bound to have its pros and cons. The best you can do is weigh all of your options and choose a school that you’re most comfortable with. Others may input their opinions but the choice is ultimately yours to make!