Choosing a College

Choosing the right college is all about finding a place that is best for you. Gathering and comparing information about colleges will help narrow that search.

Here are some factors to consider:

Type of Schools

Think about what you might like to study or major in at college. Figuring out what’s important to you will help you choose where you want to go to school. Each type of college is different and will open up different doors for you after graduation.

  • Four-year colleges and universities – Colleges and universities generally offer bachelor’s degrees after you’ve completed a program of study that typically takes about four years. Many of these schools also offer advanced degrees, including master’s, doctoral and professional degree programs, such as medicine and law.
  • Community colleges – These colleges typically offer associate degree (two-year) programs. The cost is usually much lower than four-year institutions and admission requirements typically are not as stringent.
  • Career, vocational and technical schools – Schools in this category are distinguished by a focus on specific degree, certificate or training programs that generally take two years or less to complete. Examples include schools that specialize in computer programming, business administration, graphic design and cosmetology.
  • Distance education – Many schools offer courses that are delivered in whole or in part online, through videoconferencing or correspondence. Students learn at their own pace and according to their own schedule.


The cost of your education is  important when researching colleges.  There are several things to consider as you’re deciding on the right college for you:

  • In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition –  Most public colleges and universities have one cost for residents of the state and a higher cost for students from out-of-state.
  • Financial Aid Package – Financial aid makes a difference and it helps students pay for educational expenses.  You may receive a combination of grants, scholarships, work-study employment, or loans to help pay for college.   Don’t rule out a college based solely on the Cost of Attendance (COA).  You won’t know if the college is truly affordable until you receive your financial aid award letter.


Colleges range in size from tens to tens of thousands of students.  Typically a smaller college offers smaller classes and a greater opportunity to interact with students and professors.  Smaller colleges generally offer broader academic choices and activities.  Lectures are more common at larger colleges and these lectures are typically led by faculty members who are leading authorities in their field.


Give consideration to a school’s location, size, and activities when researching colleges and career schools.  Some students want to stay close to their friends and families and others like the opportunity to go away to school to live on their own.  Do you want to go to school in a big city or a small town?  Do you want a small, intimate setting?  A school that’s big enough to be a city by itself?  Keep in mind that the location of a school and your housing options can impact your overall cost.  Does the school offer activities and social opportunities you like? Does it offer services you need? Does it have a good campus security system?

Academic Program

Does the school offer the major or program you’d like to pursue? Does the program have a good reputation? Talk to professionals in the field you’d like to pursue, do a web search, and talk to students who are enrolled in that program.

Research Tools

Review the resources in the WSAC Passport Resource Guide, especially the following tabs:

  • Planning for college
  • Testing & test prep
  • Workforce & careers