So you’ve gotten into all of these great schools…now what? Well, eventually you will have to commit somewhere. How will you know which school is right for you? Hopefully these four major tips can help with that decision!
No doubt about it, money is one of the biggest factors in higher education; I would recommend looking up certain scholarships/programs specific to the school, and don’t hesitate to reach out and ask more questions about finances. If you qualify, make sure you also know about the financial aid policies each school has. For Notre Dame specifically, every student is evaluated for different loan and scholarship opportunities once a student is admitted; I got an email about my financial aid package and the steps moving forward, so make sure you are looking at your emails! Universities set money aside to aid students who need it, so don’t be afraid to use that as a resource and get the best college education possible.
Even though you might not know exactly what you want to major in, it definitely helps to go to a school where you have opportunities to learn more about something you are interested in. At Notre Dame, there is a wide variety of majors, minors, and concentrations that one can take across many different departments and colleges, but some schools specialize in a few things. As a computer science major myself, I know that the College of Engineering is a great department due to the academic rigor I encounter daily, the wide range of people I meet in my classes, and the resources and help we students are given, in addition to the faculty and staff members that are constantly finding solutions to some of the biggest problems we face today. I have also recently added a digital marketing minor to my major, and many students love to add concentrations and minors to really hone in on a specific skill. I would recommend looking up professors and courses in your intended major and see if anything sticks out to you (and don’t be afraid to email and ask any questions you may have). If you are unsure what major you want to select, I would recommend attending a school that has a wide range of majors and classes that you can take so that you can explore before choosing a major!
There are many pros and cons to how big or small a school can be, but it all depends on what you are looking for and will thrive in. Notre Dame is a small/medium sized school with approximately 9,000 undergraduate students, and it is definitely likely that you will run into someone you know as you walk throughout campus. Besides some freshman gen-eds, your classes will also likely be small (about 15-30 students per class), where there is a lot of teacher-student interactions (but with some great professors, even those huge classes can feel small); if you attend a big school (with more than 15,000 students), even though the classes may be really huge, there are usually more opportunities for socializing and meeting many different people. No matter what you decide, I would recommend having 1-on-1’s with your professors so that they are more likely to help you and vouch for you in times of need.
Do you want to stay close to home or move as far away as possible? Maybe somewhere in between? These are really important things to consider when choosing a college to attend. Where schools are located can truly make an impact on your college experience; since I’m from Miami, to only times I go home are during the long winter and summer breaks (flights can get really expensive), but my roommate who lives in Chicago is able to go home during long weekends and shorter breaks, and her parents even come and surprise her sometimes. I wouldn’t change my experience for the world, and I really like feeling a little more independent, but sometimes I do miss spending time with my family. If you want to go far, do it (I know it may seem daunting at first, but I’ve really enjoyed it), and if you want to stay close, do it (you’ll love mixing college life with your high school friends and family); there is no wrong answer, you just have to do you!
Also consider the city/town where the school is located. It’s lovely being so close to Indianapolis and Chicago, but South Bend is a smaller town with a small proportion of off-campus activities (in comparison to larger cities, at least). Consider your weekend activities, nightly habits, and daily routines to ensure that you aren’t missing out on your intended college experience; I enjoy being in my room watching a show while eating ice cream, and occasionally going out to movies, restaurants, and community events–so a smaller city works for me. However, if you are one to go out and love to explore, you might want to find a place where you can thrive.
You should also keep the weather in mind and pack accordingly; I love experiencing all of the seasons here in South Bend, but I do miss the sun during the colder months (permacloud is a very real thing here). Make sure to pack accordingly!
All in all, no matter where you end up committing, you will have a great time. And what if you don’t? You can always transfer to another school or pick another major, etc. You are forging your own path from here on out, and you have to do what makes you happy and where you belong. Don’t try to stress too much about this whole process; everyone is rooting for you and wants to see you succeed. Never, ever, forget that :)
Good luck making your final decisions (you have got this)!