Choosing the Right College

This post will be dedicated for those students currently deciding which college to attend. It is your senior year and you may be going over your options as to which college to attend. When deciding which university to attend always remember that “Knowing all your choices is the right choice.” There may be some members in your family persuading you to attend their alma mater or you may know a high school counselor attempting to convince you to stay in your hometown’s college. Whichever way you may be deciding there are several factors that you should take into consideration. For a first generation student the opportunity to attend college is a great start towards a promising future, thus making the right choice is a huge benefit.

Recently the White House released a college scorecard that is available for students to use in order to help them prioritize the needs they seek from an institution of higher education. The scorecard allows for students to search through a variety of colleges across the country and allows for comparisons in terms of cost, graduation rates and employment opportunities for graduates. For a first generation student this new tool serves as a great contributor towards making the decision of what college to attend. Since a first generation student does not have parents who have completed college, this decision process can make for a stressful time. However, by exploring all your options you will have a better understanding of what to look for before making your final decision.

Personally, I can remember my college search process was a completely new experience for me and my family but still one that I was very much excited about. There were a mix of emotions (excitement, fear, joy) surrounding my senior year and leading up to graduation. During this time I would look at how much it would cost to attend my first university of choice, how far the distance was between my hometown and the schools I was choosing between and also how much financial aid each school was offering me. As a first generation student I did not have the resource in my parents to show me how to fill out a FAFSA, ask about dorm-life or how to sign up for college courses. Even though many of us venture out on these steps on our own, these events serve as building blocks in creating our independent self outside of our home.

Overall, the decision making process is one that you should not feel scared or hesitant to partake in while you are still in school. Even though it may be intimidating at times to make such a life defining choice, it is all part of making the transition to the next step in your college career. Either way you would be well served to take into consideration these points and complete as much research on the college you wish to attend before you actually set foot on campus as a student.

Mike Gutierrez is a first generation undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently in the process of applying to graduate school.