By Carol Trehearn

Earning a college degree takes time, patience, and money, but it also provides a return on investment comparable to few other pathways in life.

With the average college graduate earning hundreds of thousands of dollars more over a lifetime than someone without a degree, the justification for pursuing higher education is strong.

However, there are literally thousands of colleges in the United States that any prospective student can consider attending. How can somebody make the right decision based on their needs and restrictions? As it turns out, considering a few simple factors can help dramatically narrow down your choices and make the selection process easier. Here, we’ll review what to consider when picking the perfect college for you.

Choose a State

The first and most important metric in considering a future college is to determine where exactly you’d like to attend. While some people may be willing to move halfway around the world to attend college, others will want to find a more local solution due to family or work commitments. A quick glance using tools such as will reveal all accredited colleges within your chosen geographic area.

In addition to picking a college based on proximity, you may also be restricted based on scholarships, grants, or other academic assistance. Regardless of your reasoning, there are plenty of high-quality colleges throughout the US that would be great places for your future studies.

Consider Your Major(s)

It is obviously worth noting that a college that doesn’t offer the major you intend to pursue is not a college that’ll make it onto your shortlist. If you’re currently struggling with both your preferred major and the institutions you’d like to consider, you can further narrow down the potential choices by seeing which ones offer classes for the majors you’re contemplating.

Furthermore, some colleges provide higher-level instruction and more comprehensive courses for one some majors: you may wish to further restrict your options to those that have the very best departments for your potential majors.

Focus on Your Price Range

Virtually nobody can attend college without considering the overall cost. With the cost per year for in-state tuition reaching $10,000, it’s critical to consider how price affects your choice.

Smaller colleges – as well as those that are both public and in-state – tend to be substantially cheaper than private and out-of-state choices. Even with loans and scholarships, the price of college can be discouraging for many, so opting for solutions that provide the best instruction possible while not breaking the bank should be factored into any short-list of potential colleges and universities.

Determine Your Learning Style

Last but not least, your personal learning style should be considered before enrolling in any college courses. What exactly does this mean?

For starters, you’ll want to learn more about each potential college, how their schedules work, what students have to say about your prospective instructors, and how the overall climate of the campus factors into the learning experience.

Another element to consider is whether you wish to enroll in the college via its physical campus or through online learning. Many colleges even offer a mixture of the two, which can further assist in balancing hectic schedules while attending school.

It isn’t easy to decide on any one college. There are many different factors to consider, but narrowing down your selection can be rather simple. By considering geography, learning style, pricing and availability of your major, you’ll be better positioned to sort through the noise and choose a final contender that matches your tastes.

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