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How to choose a college once you’ve been accepted

You’ve put in all the hard work: filling out applications, getting transcripts and references, studying for and taking the SAT or ACT. Now comes the harder part: making a decision on where to spend the next four years of your life. Once the acceptance letters from universities come trickling — or pouring — in, it’s time to whittle down your choices of schools based on exactly what you want out of your college. 

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you weigh the pros and cons of schools:

 

1. Does it have the major you want? If you’re certain about the general area you want to study, knowing whether a school includes that major can make or break your decision to attend. Also being aware of how popular or robust that specific major can be helpful as well. Seattle Pacific University, for example, has more than 70 majors to choose from, with Business Administration, Psychology and Nursing as its top three. 

2. What kind of student support services does the university offer? College is your new home away from home, so it’s important to know whether it will have everything you need for you overall well-being. The facilities — from the cafeteria to the library to its outdoor spaces — are all places you’ll be frequenting. Some schools offer free mental health counseling, tutoring, career coaching, and more. At SPU, students can take advantage of the Center for Career and Calling for career advice and connections to potential employers. The school also provides disability support services, a writing center, counseling and much more. 

3. Consider your financial aid opportunities. The price tag on college will vary for each school, depending on scholarships, in-state and out-of-state tuition and other factors. Make sure you are aware of each and every loan, grant and scholarship you  qualify for at each college. In addition, make note of the different employment and work-study opportunities each school offers, or potential for nearby off-campus employment. 

4. Location, location. You may want to go to a school close to home, or farther away to ensure your independence as a young adult. But there are other location factors to consider. Is the college in the middle of a city, with easy access to public transportation?  SPU, for example, is less than 15 minutes from Seattle proper, with tons of things to do and enjoy. But also worth considering are the companies or industries nearby where you could get an internship or job. 

5. The best way: VISIT. There’s nothing like stepping foot on-campus and feeling the energy of a place to know whether it’s the right place for youo. To visit SPU, schedule a tour online, or call 800-366-3344 and indicate whether you’d like to stay with a student overnight, visit classes, meet with a professor, and anything else you’d like to see or do while on-campus.

6. Connect with staff. Professors, admissions counselors and other university employees want to assist you in making your most informed college decision, so don’t be afraid to talk to them via email, Skype, phone calls or in-person meetings. 

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