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With thousands of colleges and universities in the US, how do I know which is right for me??

Public or private? Big, mid-size, or small? Out-of-state or in-state? Within driving distance? What type of financial aid or scholarships is available? All of these, and more, are common questions when figuring out what type of school is the right fit for you. With so many choices, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. But, all the choices also mean you have a pretty high chance of finding a school that feels like home, offers the academics you're interested in, and provides the type of campus life you’re looking for.

A great way to start narrowing down your choices is by signing up for campus tours. Sign up for tours at the colleges and universities closest to your house and try to find different types of campuses to tour! A small, private, liberal arts school versus a large, public, state school with Division I sports will be about as different as it can get, but as you explore, you’ll start to learn what you do and don’t like. Do you want small class sizes, or are you OK with lecture classes with hundreds of students? Do you mind having to take the bus to get to class, or does a small campus feel better to you? You’ll start to know the answer to these questions and once you do, you can seek out institutions that have the campus environment you’re looking for.

Once you start to hone in on the type of college or university, then you may take a trip to a school that’s further away and you can get a feel for what it would be like to come home for a weekend or holiday. Do you mind having to book an airplane ticket, or is driving distance more comfortable for you? As you get a better sense of the location, size, and environment you’d want, then you can begin to look at academic programs and scholarships that are offered at colleges to ensure those fit what you’re looking for, too.

As you begin to think through these questions, you’ll start to whittle down the list of schools you’re interested in applying to. Breaking it down one aspect at a time and prioritizing what matters most to you is a great way to make the college search process less daunting. If you aren’t sure where to begin or what to look for, ask! Whether it be your high school guidance counselor or teacher, a parent or sibling, or one of us at College Knowledge, there’s never a bad question to ask and we are eager to help you find a home away from home for four years!

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