I received my last admissions decision on April 1, 2017. After that, I was left with six acceptance letters, six financial aid packages, three states and one month to make the seemingly biggest decision of my life. I am going to be completely honest with you, I had absolutely no idea where I would end up. And it was not until April 28, just two days before my decision was due, that I decided on the University of Florida. There were so many factors to consider when it came down to making this decision. So, if you are currently going through this struggle, these are just a few of the things that I took into consideration when making my decision.
Major (this one’s major)
I think this goes without saying, but the first thing you must ask yourself when deciding on a college is simply, “Do they have my major?” Whether you have a specific major in mind, or at least a general area of study, make sure that the school you intend to attend has it. This is something that you should consider during the application process; however, it is especially crucial when making your official decision. On the other hand, if you have no idea of what you want to study whatsoever, then it is probably a good idea to go to a school that offers a variety of areas of study, that way you have room to change your mind in the future.
Location, location, location
This was probably the main thing that held me back when I was deciding where to go — I simply did not like Gainesville. I am from Miami, a very big city with a plethora of different people and endless things to do. Gainesville isn’t exactly that. When I first visited, the one thing I picked up on was that there was not much to do (other than eat burgers and pizza or go out for drinks). The fact that I felt so far from a major city left me completely out of my comfort zone. This is why location is an important aspect you have to consider. This is the place where you are going to be spending the next few years of your life, so it has to be somewhere you are comfortable.
This is where things get complicated for a lot of people. Many people will tell you not to worry about the money because student loans exist. While they aren’t wrong, I was determined to make my decision with financial aid playing a big role. After reviewing all of my financial aid packages, I had to take out more than half of the schools that I had gotten accepted to because I simply could not afford them. Instead, I decided to make the most economical decision that I was still completely satisfied with. Now, this was a personal decision, and many people choose to ignore financial aid packages when picking where to go, and that is totally fine. For me, however, it played a huge role in my decision.
Prestige (but not necessarily the name)
I know UF is ranked in the top 10 public universities in the country. But what I mean by the school’s prestige goes far beyond that. When considering a school, you need to look specifically in your desired area of study and view the accolades that department has. You want to go to a school where, when you enter the work force, you will find yourself surrounded by alumni who will make great connections. The beauty of being a telecommunication major at UF is that there are so many notable alumni of that specific program and of the College of Journalism and Communications in general. You shouldn’t make your decision based off of the school’s name, but off of the opportunities you will be given there, which brings me to my next point.
Opportunity is something that is often overlooked, but this is super important. In whatever school you choose, you must have room to grow and expand outside of the classroom. Whether it be that the school has great connections with outside internships or internship opportunities on campus (like UF’s newsroom or advertising agency), you want to make sure you have opportunities readily available to you. While it varies by industry, I know in communications it is vital to have work experience while in college in order to get a job once you graduate. Basically, anything that will help you build up your resume is good to have at the university you attend.
While the decision process is much more complex than just these few things, I hope that you find this information somewhat helpful. And, as always, feel free to reach out to me on social media with any questions or comments you may have — @itsalexishoward on all sites!