College | December 6, 2022 | Kiley Thompson
You might know people who think that, as a high school student, you should just know how to compare colleges and choose the one that’s perfect for you. But the truth is, it’s not something that comes easily. With so many schools competing for your attention, choosing a college can seem daunting—but it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s info on how you can compare colleges and some tips for choosing a college that’s right for you.
There are college search websites that let you discover colleges and evaluate factors like size, cost, and majors. You can compare college costs side-by-side with Nitro Next’s personalized dashboard. U.S. News and World Report is another great resource that ranks schools based on a multitude of factors.
All college search websites pull from a standard database, so look around and find a search site that works for your needs.
Once you decide what’s important to you, develop a first-pass list of schools that match your needs and wants. Then start researching them. Start with the schools’ websites and expand your search onto their social media channels and alumni sites.
Comparing colleges takes time and effort. You’ll want to take notes and stay organized.
"Don’t rule out a private university because you think it’s too expensive."
Public vs private colleges
The main difference between public and private schools is how they’re funded.
Public universities receive some money from their state governments. Private institutions don’t receive public money, and therefore, rely on private endowments, contributions, and tuition.
Private colleges and universities tend to be, on average, more expensive than public. However, that might not be the case for you. It depends on the financial aid that’s listed in your financial aid offer.
Don’t rule out a private university because you think it’s too expensive. Many private schools have college grants and scholarship programs to attract and retain top students.
As for their size, since public universities use public funds, they can be huge. Some state universities have over 40,000 undergraduates alone! They may also have a wider variety of majors and programs than many private universities.
Private schools tend to be smaller, and often have a specific range of majors or fields.
Here are five primary factors to consider when figuring out what is most important to you:
What do you want to study? What do you want to do professionally? Will this school help you do those things?
Are you okay riding a shuttle to class, or do you want a small, walkable campus?
Think about the total cost of college. That includes transportation, food, technology, books, and more. It’s not just tuition. Are you willing to take out federal student loans or private student loans?
Do you dream of experiencing a new part of the country (again, consider the costs of travel for four years)? Or is staying in-state a priority for you? Have you considered commuting to save money?
Does a busy city inspire you? Or would you rather have easy access to nature?
My last piece of advice is to start your college search early. Give yourself plenty of time to do research and visit schools, without feeling frantic.
Have fun and be open to the unexpected!