How to Choose a College (with a Career Path in Mind)

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As you’re finishing your last few months of high school, you’re probably wondering about the future. Namely, which college to attend. With all the choices out there, it can be hard to make a decision. Maybe you want to attend the same college your parents went to, or maybe you want to try a new adventure outside of the state you live in. Nevertheless, it’s very important to figure out what college you want to attend early on.

Although college application deadlines can be around early January to mid February, most students start preparing months in advance, usually in the summer. Depending on the college, you will need recommendation letters, multiple essays, a resume, a portfolio, and possibly more; which is why early preparation is key. But if you’re at a crossroads, how can you decide where to go? And more importantly, how can you know if you’re making the right choice? 

Let’s discuss how you can decide on which college to attend, based on your personal plans and future career goals. 

Choosing the Correct College for You

Before you start selecting colleges, it’s important to figure out an environment that works best for you, not just something that looks good on resumes. 

You might want more of the college experience, like living on campus or joining clubs. Or maybe you plan on working during university and you want a convenient commuter school to help manage your time. No one knows your situation better than you do, so don’t feel pressured to aim for the most prestigious college you can think of. College isn’t cheap after all, and it can be tough to manage all the fees and loans if you don’t have any big scholarships. Of course, it’s even possible to get a job even without going to college, so reflect on your own future goals and decide what pathway works best for you. 

Alongside looking at what the college experience is like, it’s also important to see how well alumni do in the job search and beyond. Whether it’s connecting students through fun events, such as sports games, or providing job opportunities to students in job fairs, a good job offer is one of the main things you want after the college experience. Ask around, or search on LinkedIn, to see where alumni of your major are working today. 

Finally, it’s important to get specific in your search. Although you may have a dream college and dream major in mind, it’s necessary to get them to match up. If you want to work in biotechnology, but the college doesn’t offer specific classes or a major that correlates to this field, then you’ll have to transfer, costing you more than $14,000 in extra costs! Similarly, you might also want to intern at a specific company, but the college you want to attend doesn’t have a campus near enough to the company that you can commute there. Hence, it’s all about determining what is the most convenient for you. 

Before you commit to a college, you need detailed information to make the best decisions, but how can you get it all in one place?

How to Choose the Best College

Luckily, PathMatch has developed the College Scoreboard Tracker, an all-encompassing way to search and learn more about various colleges. 

Let’s take a closer look at the tool.

The College Scorecard Tracker allows you to search by college or field of study, making it easy for you to compare and contrast the institutions and the career paths you are currently most interested in. This tool can be especially useful when you’re trying to narrow down your applications and deciding where to attend college. 

For example, if you’re trying to decide between University of California-Berkeley or Stanford University, you can use the tool to see these statistics.  

Depending on what you value, these factors can impact your decision. You might want to attend a college that has a lower cost, or you might want to earn more in the long run, all depending on what works for you. Observing the graduation rate is also important, because it means the college has systems in place, such as academic aid services, to make sure you succeed. 

Alongside these statistics, the College Scoreboard Tracker also provides statistics on specific fields of study for each college. For example, if you want to earn a general engineering degree at Stanford, you can find out if the college actually even offers this major, as well as how much graduates typically earn. 

If a university has a high number of graduates for a specific program, it means that major is popular for that college. That’s really good, because it means there is already a strong program in place for students. If a college has many undergraduates pursuing that major, it also means they’ll be better able to connect you to internships or job opportunities. 

The median earnings for a major at college can also provide important insights. Although you may not know it, some colleges may be more favored in certain industries, so seeing what alumni typically earn can show you the value of a particular degree from a particular college in the eyes of the general workforce. Even if you want to attend a less expensive university, it’s important that you’re getting a highly valued experience for your money. You don’t want to waste your time at a university that has low median earnings or isn’t well known among recruiters. 

Finally, if you still aren’t sure about what major to select, the College Scoreboard Tracker also provides a list of the highest earning fields of study.

This way, you can discover new career paths you haven’t thought of before, and find colleges that you may not have considered. Best of luck! 

Not yet sure about what major or college to choose? PathMatch can help you match your interests to various career paths and help you learn the skills to succeed. Download the PathMatch app today! 

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