From class sizes and internship opportunities to tuition and study-abroad programs, there are countless factors to consider when choosing which school to attend.
With so much to take into account, it can
be difficult to decide where you should
spend your next four – or more – years.
Here, admissions representatives from
Point Park University and Waynesburg
University offer advice on how to choose
the right school for you.
1. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Even if you’ve always imagined yourself
at a big university or swore you’d never
apply to a college in the city, it’s important
to consider and research a wide range of
schools before making any decisions.
“Students should keep an open mind
when exploring colleges and universities,”
says Gary Bracken, vice president of
enrollment management at Point Park.
“You should strive to find a university that
challenges you yet provides a supportive
environment to help you embrace new
“They should also not discount a
college or university based on price
until after the financial aid process has
concluded,” says Dr. Shari Payne, vice
president of enrollment at Waynesburg.
“Many students receive generous financial
aid packages that make the cost of
attendance far less than the published
2. DON’T RELY ON RANKINGS
School rankings may sound impressive,
but you shouldn’t base your decision too
heavily on them.
“Selecting a college or university
should be a very personalized experience
for each prospective student,” says Dr.
Payne. “They should look for a school that
is going to be their best fit for the next
“Rather than considering rankings,
I recommend that students search for
published outcomes that will help them
determine what the return on investment
will be. For example, students should
be able to compare the freshman to
sophomore retention rate, graduation rate
and placement rate.”
“You’re looking for the right university
for you. It’s a personal choice and
3. THINK LONG-TERM
When choosing which school to attend,
it’s important to remember that your
decision lasts beyond the four years you’ll
“Students need to ensure that the
college or university offers the right
academic major that will help on their
chosen career path,” says Dr. Payne.
“You shouldn’t have to wait four years
to enter the real world,” says Bracken.
“The right university should have faculty
who integrate relevant experience into the
classroom and feature innovative co-op
programs, internships and professional
networking to launch your career.”
4. VISIT CAMPUSES
“Take advantage of all visit
opportunities,” says Dr. Payne, “Including
open house programs, personal visits
that include campus tours and visits
with faculty, overnight stays in the
residence halls with current students and
even football games or other campus
“Be an active visitor,” advises Bracken.
“Talk to current students, professors
and alumni. Sit in on classes. See where
students are interning, having co-op
experiences or being employed... You’re
trying to determine if this is a university
that empowers you to thrive and embraces
you as an individual.”
Dr. Payne says her own college decision
was based on a tour of the campus.
“I got a strong feeling of belonging
when I went on tour to one university, in
particular. That was the only one where I
submitted an application,” she says. “As an
admissions professional, I don’t necessarily
recommend that approach. I can’t help but
notice the look on prospective students’
faces, though, when I see that they’ve
connected with my university in the same
way that I did 25 years ago.”
The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford is for
students who want to earn the world-renozwned
University of Pittsburgh degree in a personalized,
supportive and friendly environment.
Choosing which school you’ll attend is
a big decision. Here are some questions to
ask yourself when narrowing down your
future alma mater.
1. Why am I attending college?
2. What do I want to do after
graduation? How will this school help me
3. How much can I afford to spend on
4. Will this school accept my Advanced
Placement credits or dual-credit courses
from high school?
5. What financial aid and work-study
opportunities does this school offer?
6. Does this school offer my potential
major? If I decide to switch majors, are my
second and third choices available?
7. What kind of campus do I want?
Small or large? Urban, suburban or
traditional college town?
8. How far away from home am I
9. Does this school offer the
extracurricular activities I’m interested in?
10. What student support services are
available at the school?