Choosing the right college is not an easy venture. The university you choose to attend will affect you for the next four years and beyond, as it shapes your professional career and life. This is daunting, but not as complicated as some people are led to believe. As with any big decision, a pros and cons list can go a long way. First off, know what matters to you, whether that is the availability of the major you want to study, the extracurricular activities you are passionate about, or even the type of campus environment you are looking for. Know what you can compromise on and what you are holding on to. What university best meets these needs?
This was the approach I took when selecting a college. I was accepted into 3 Big 10 universities, all of which were large Midwest schools with similar programs and rankings. I knew I could be happy at any of them, but that didn't make the decision any easier. I wrote out a side-by-side comparison of the schools, focusing on my college must-haves.
For me, I knew I wanted to study business, but I wasn't sure what major I wanted. I also knew I wanted to study abroad no matter what. I wanted to feel supported with my academics and involvement. I knew I wanted to be on a campus with a lot going on socially and professionally.
As I went through my list, Carlson just began to stick. Of my three schools, it was the only one that was freshmen-admit, meaning I was in the business school from the moment I came to the U. I learned that I wouldn't have to declare a major until my junior year, but I would get a broad knowledge base of business in the meantime to guarantee my success. My desire to study abroad was perfectly matched by Carlson's mandatory international experience requirement: all Carlson students will study abroad during their four years here so it is built into the curriculum (check out my blogs on Brazil!).From coming into Carlson for tours, I had learned about the amazing student services offered through the Advising/Programming Office, Business Career Center, and Global Institute, so I knew I would be well-supported while attending the U (Carlson has Info Sessions Mondays and Fridays 11:30-12:30). Also, nestled between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Carlson has access to 19 Fortune 500 companies for professional opportunities. MSP is also a hub for theater, music, and food so there is plenty of entertainment value as well.
For me, Carlson was a clear winner in my side-by-side comparison, which made my decision a lot less stressful and even pumped me up for the opportunities ahead.
Make your list, check it twice, be real with your needs and expectations. However, the most important idea to keep in mind is that a college decision is not an exact science--there is no 100% right answer. If you go into a situation with the right mindset, you can make the most out of any experience. I always tell people who are stuck between two great schools is to go with their gut. The school you should attend should feel like home, a place where you can make your life and make your future. You should feel supported in your decision, and even more important, you should feel excited about it. Taking the time to fully explore your collegiate options might seem difficult but the rewards of going to a school you love will last a lifetime. Good luck and I hope to see you next year!