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What's the Right College for Me?

There are many factors to consider when selecting the right college or university. Using California Colleges.edu's Undergraduate Matching Assistant and California CareerZone's college locator enables you to search for colleges based on majors offered, location, enrollment, housing options, sports, average entering freshman test scores, and faith affiliation.

You can go directly to these sites or you may find it helpful to review these college selection factors before visiting the sites:

Reputation of the college

How is the college ranked nationally? For example, U.S. News and World Report and Fiske Guiderate schools yearly on factors such as reputation, student-faculty ratio, SAT/ACT scores, and retention/graduation rate. This factor may have an impact on your future employment activities or admission to a graduate school of your choice.

Selectivity

How difficult is it to be accepted to the college? What criteria are they looking for in order to be admitted (for example, SAT/ACT scores, grade point average, numbers of honors or advanced placement classes, student activities and athletics, leadership roles, admission essays)?

Accreditation

Is the college accredited by a regional accreditation body, such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges?

Major or Academic Department

Does the college have a strong program of study in the area of interest you wish to pursue (for example, science, math, business, engineering, nursing, education, or the arts)?

Special Programs

Is there a range of available internships, research, creative projects, or study abroad programs?

Class Size

How large are typical classes (for example, large lecture classes or small discussion type classes)? This may have an impact on how much interaction you will have with professors. This is particularly important in your major field of interest. These same professors will act as mentors, assist you with career pursuits, and write letters of recommendation for future employment opportunities or graduate schools.

Faculty

What is the student-teacher ratio? What percentage of classes are taught by teaching assistants or part-time faculty members? Again, this may determine how much contact you will have with professors.

Academic Facilities

Are there adequate facilities available (for example, science labs, Internet capabilities, library resources)?

Location

Are you going to commute from home to college? How far are you willing to live away from home? Do you want to live in a climate that is warm, moderate, or seasonal? Do you want to live in an urban, suburban, or rural environment? The size of a geographical area can also be a factor in you being able to get part-time employment if you need it.

Size of College

How comfortable would you feel at a small, medium, or large-size college? Will you be overwhelmed at a large college versus a smaller college which may provide a more intimate setting?

Type of College

California Community college? Four-year independent college? Four-year church related college? Same sex college? Historically black or Hispanic colleges? Military school? Out of state college? California State University campus? University of California campus? Each type of college has advantages and disadvantages. You will need to decide which suits you best.

Housing

If you are living away from home, are there adequate dormitory or rental facilities available? Will you be comfortable with roommates? How long is housing guaranteed?

Cost

To what extent will cost be a factor in your decision-making?   Are there scholarship or grant opportunities available for you?

Support Services

To what extent are things such as health facilities, recreational facilities, library services, counselors, and computer labs of importance to you?

Student Body

Is the student body diverse ethnically and socio-economically? Is this of relevance to you?

Campus Life

To what extent are a student union, social activities, fraternities, sororities, student clubs, organizations, leadership opportunities, athletic activities, and cultural activities of interest to you? These could be major considerations if you intend to live away from home.

Campus Safety

Do you believe you will be safe on a particular campus? Are there “safety” features such as blue light phones for 911 access, secure dorm access, 24-hour security patrols, and late night security personnel to walk or drive you to your car or dorm? Get a copy of the latest campus crime statistics for a college of interest to you. This is usually available online at a college’s website.

Special Assistance

If you have a disability, does the college provide adequate personal assistance? Are there learning or tutoring labs for math and writing available?

List the factors that are most important for you.

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