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Identify What You Want in a School


Before you explore and compare different schools, first decide what you're looking for in a school. Ask your parents to do the same thing. Then compare your answers and come to some agreement as to what you want in a school. Search for a school that fits you well academically, socially and culturally:

  • athletic offerings
  • campus safety
  • campus setting (urban, suburban, small-town or rural)
  • diversity of student population
  • extracurricular organizations and events
  • faculty experience and expertise
  • financial aid availability and deadlines
  • geographic location
  • housing availability and cost
  • length, time and location of classes
  • number of students enrolled
  • percentage of graduates employed within one year
  • percentage of students who graduate
  • percentage of students who return the following year
  • programs of study, majors, and course selection
  • school facilities and equipment
  • school or program reputation
  • student-to-faculty ratio (class size)
  • support services (meals, counseling, job placement)
  • transportation availability and cost
  • tuition and fees

If you're still having trouble deciding, ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to go to college?
  • What do I want to get out of college?
  • How will college help me work toward my goals?
  • Which college will best/least help me work toward my goals?
  • What are the advantages/disadvantages of going now rather than later?
  • Does it matter how many students are enrolled with me?
  • Do I want to be with students who have diverse ideas, viewpoints and backgrounds?
  • In which type of campus setting am I most/least comfortable?

Don't eliminate a school solely because it's outside your comfort zone. The challenge of dealing with the unfamiliar can help you grow as a person.

Download or request a free copy of our Minnesota college guide, which includes valuable information on more than 75 Minnesota colleges and universities.

Make an Educated Decision

It's good to have options when choosing a college. Applying and being admitted to more than one school allows you to compare how much financial aid you would receive from each school and determine the cost for you to attend.

If you qualify for financial aid, you will receive a Financial Aid Award Letter from the school. This letter outlines the specific financial aid programs for which you're eligible and the dollar amounts you will receive if you attend that school. How much you're eligible to receive will vary by school due to the differences in the school's overall cost and how they put together your financial aid package.

Use a financial aid comparison worksheet to evaluate the financial aid package offered by each college.

Choose your school based on everything you know, including the price, and confirm your plan to attend that school. Most schools ask for a deposit to reserve a place in the class. Also, you should send a note to the schools you do not plan to attend, declining their offer of admission and/or financial aid.

If you have specific questions about a financial aid package, call the financial aid office at the school.

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