8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Researching Colleges

Posted by IPFW Admissions Team on 10/13/16 8:30 AM

Download the Ultimate College Decision TimelineKnowing what to look for is sometimes just as important as finding it. Before you even begin looking into colleges, it’s a good idea to figure out what actually matters to you as a student.

These 10 questions will help narrow your focus before you start researching schools and keep your list under control.

1. What majors am I interested in?

If you’ve known since kindergarten that you want to get a degree in chemical engineering, great! That makes it easy to scratch any schools off your list that don’t offer a strong chemical engineering program.

Or maybe you know you want to make art, but not what kind of art. At least you know a school that focuses on engineering and science may not be the right choice for you. (Though this isn’t always the case.)

If you don’t have any idea where your academic journey will take you, that’s okay. You have time to figure it out and plenty of ways to do so—there are even personality tests that will help you pick your major. But if you start your search with a few potential majors in mind, this will help you figure out which schools could be a good fit. 

2. Do I want a public university or a private college?

Public universities and private colleges each come with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Do you want the big state school experience? Or do you prefer a smaller campus community? Deciding which you should choose is ultimately a question of your interests and needs as a student. 


3. Do I want to stay in state or go out of state?

The common wisdom is that choosing to stay in state for college is the more affordable choice, but this isn’t always true. Some universities, including IPFW, offer in-state tuition for nearby, out-of-state students.

Beyond cost of living and tuition, you should also think about how else moving away (or staying close to home) might impact your college years. 

4. What can I afford?

This is a broad question, and one that will take a lot of time and research to answer fully.

But you can start thinking now about how you plan to pay for college, what types of financial aid could be available, and what your family may be able to contribute toward your degree.

This can help set expectations early, before you get too attached to a school with a price tag that’s simply out of reach.

Want to learn how to pay for college? We have an entire blog series devoted to this—click here to read them.


5. Do I plan on partying? 

For some students, an … ahem, active social scene on campus is a big selling point. For others, not so much. Whether you’re a party animal or a bookworm, it’s probably a good idea to decide now what kind of scene suits you (and your goals) better for the next four years.

6. Do I want to study abroad?

One of the most exciting things you can do in college is spend a year studying abroad, but not every university (or program) offers international education opportunities. Consider if this is something you want to do, and whether it’s a major factor in your college decision. If you happen to be considering IPFW for your college, know that we have access to over 600 study abroad programs in over 90 countries. 

7. What kind of housing do I want to live in?

Dorms, apartments, housing—every university’s living situation is different, and each type comes with its own pro’s and con’s. (And some schools don’t offer housing at all.)

Do you want roommates? Do you want to live within walking distance of the library, cafeteria, and your classrooms? Are you bringing a pet? All good things to start sorting out now. 

8. What are my deal breakers?

Does your school absolutely have to have athletics, free parking, or an internship program? Is there something you simply can’t live without? 

Try to identify some deal breakers for you—whether they relate to cost, location, programs, or campus features—so you’ll know early when a college isn’t the right fit for you.

What’s next?

Want to make sure you’re on track as you begin your research? Download our Ultimate College Decision Timeline.

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Topics: Choosing a College





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