How to Know Which College Is Right for You
The typical advice you will read in books and hear from well-meaning friends and advisors focuses on two priorities in the college search: Will the college help you get a good job? And will you have fun? But there’s much more to choosing a college!
Don’t get us wrong: both questions above are important. College is expensive, and the reality of our modern society is that, for right or wrong, a lot of careers require a college degre. And while you’re working hard at it, why go someplace where you’ll be miserable?
But keep in mind several other key priorities, such as whether you’ll get a good education, sustain and grow in your faith, cultivate your talents, discern your calling from God, and discover or confirm your vocation in life—whether it’s marriage, the priesthood, religious life, or the single life.
Faithful Catholic colleges — like those advertising in this online supplement and others recommended at The Newman Guide online — can help you do all this and more.
Finding the right college for you boils down to a few things:
- who you are and what you need to be successful,
- your calling and goals for the future, and
- whether a college serves your needs, given your answers to numbers 1 and 2.
CONSIDER YOUR PERSONALITY
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Will you learn more and succeed in small classes or in larger ones?
Are you self-motivated, or do you need more structure to succeed?
Faithful Catholic colleges range in size from 50 students to more than 8,000 students. Some are on small campuses located in the heart of a city, while others are on sprawling campuses in rural areas. Consider your personality and the environment that would best help you succeed.
REFLECT ON YOUR FAITH
Is your faith as strong as a rock, or is it shaky? Do you prefer a particular kind of liturgical environment—like praise and worship, or more traditional Masses—to keep you motivated to attend Mass at least every Sunday?
Are you tempted by certain kinds of sins?
What environment will help you avoid them?
Faithful Catholic colleges offer not only a terrific education but also a campus environment that can help you sustain and deepen your faith during your college years. The typical college culture may celebrate some things as “fun”—whether it is gossiping, binge drinking, the hook-up culture, or any other number of things—but as a Catholic, you know that these things hurt you. Put yourself in a campus environment that will help you be holy!
EVALUATE ACADEMIC & EXTRACURRICULAR GOALS
Are there particular sports, clubs or activities that you want to participate in during college?
Do you know the field or course of study you are you interested in, or are you still trying to figure that out?
Faithful Catholic colleges provide a strong liberal arts core curriculum, rooted in the Catholic tradition. This not only prepares you for a particular career but also for life.
You can choose from a wide variety of majors at faithful Catholic colleges, and you will be prepared to excel. For example, if you study nursing, you’ll be ready to respond to ethical dilemmas in the workplace. If you become a math or a history teacher, you’ll know how to teach and share the faith with students.
TAKE THE NEXT STEPS
Once you have thought about these questions, the next step is to dig in and research the colleges that are on your short list. The Newman Guide online and college websites are good places to study the various aspects of the colleges that are most important to you.
But don’t stop there! Call or e-mail college professors and staff in addition to your admissions officer.
Use social media networks to find current and recent students, asking them about their experiences.
The most important part of your evaluation involves a field trip—the campus visit! (See our tips for campus visits here.)
Searching for a college doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take a lot of thought, research, and soul searching. Pray for guidance. With your parents, decide on a college that will provide a strong education and bring you closer to Christ.