We’ll help you look at your options and build a list. Then we’ll walk through the steps to take as you narrow down your options and decide where to apply. First, let’s think about you and how to find the schools that fit your needs.

Choose a course of study

Spend some time thinking about who you are, what makes you tick, and which career is right for you. For more help with this, check out Uncover Your Interests. Next, it’s time to figure out which course of study will give you the education and training you need to be successful.

  • Research programs: Do some online searching to identify majors that work with your career goals. Talk to your school counselor and teachers to get ideas.
  • Find out how far your major and degree will take you: Will an associate’s degree be enough? Do you need a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree to reach your goal? If you’ll need a master’s degree or more, consider joint degree programs to get there faster. See Special Programs for more on this.
  • Talk to experts: Find people working in your chosen field. How? Ask your teachers, coaches, even older classmates if they have connections. Ask people in your field how their education helped them reach their professional goals. Talk to professors, current students, and alumni of programs you’re considering. Some colleges are stronger in certain majors and areas of study, so it’s important to choose wisely.
  • If college is your path, don’t stress about your major: You don’t have to know your major when you apply. Certain majors, like nursing and engineering, might require that you apply directly to their programs as freshman. But many four-year colleges and universities don’t require you to declare your major until the end of your sophomore year, giving you time to try different classes.
  • Know you’re not stuck: You don’t know until you try! You can switch majors if your first choice doesn’t work out. Keep in mind that this may add more time, and tuition payments, to your college career.

Choosing a program can help you build your list of schools to consider. Next, we’ll look at other ways to choose your best fit.

Find your fit

There are so many great schools out there. Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself as you make your list.

  • Location: Do you want to learn – and live – in a city? Are you a small-town or rural person? Do you want to live at home, live on campus in New Hampshire, expand your search to New England, or spread your wings and go somewhere further away? Keep in mind that the further you are from home, the more expensive it will be to travel to campus and back.
  • Size: Will you be comfortable at a small, medium, or large school? Do you like to blend into the crowd, recognize everyone you see, or something in between?
  • Student body: Are you looking for diversity? All male or female? Mostly in-state or out-of-state students? Students who live on campus or commute home?
  • Activities: What activities and clubs are you looking to get involved with? Club sports, debate team, volunteering, music?
  • Culture: Are you looking for a sports-focused college? A politically active student body? Think about the environment you’d like to be a part of.
  • Academic opportunities: Do you want to dive right into your course of study? Are you hoping to conduct research or present your work at conferences? Do want to learn hands-on or participate in a co-op (classroom education combined with for-credit practical work experience).
  • Academic support: Do you need accessibility or disability services? What academic or career services are you looking for?
  • Cost:What is your education budget? Talk to your family. Private colleges and vocational/trade schools are often more expensive than public colleges, and in-state schools are usually more affordable. But grants and scholarships can help, no matter what you choose. Check out Cover the Cost to find out more about paying for school.

Ready to start weighing your choices?

Now that you’ve considered what you’re looking for in an institution, let’s start making your list of schools to consider.

Male student wearing scar, holding books sitting on stone wall.
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