The Chemist: How to Choose the Right College

Hey Everyone! I hope you're having a great week so far. This week we wanted to talk about how to choose the right college. I've done this twice, once for undergrad and then for graduate school, and honestly I used some of the same criteria for both of my decisions (even though I had more things to think about for grad school).So here are a few of my tips for picking a college.

1. Location!

I grew up in the DC area and I knew that I didn't want to go to a school that was just a school. I needed some semblance of city life so I could do things and go places other than to class. Considering the location of these colleges and universities is important. You want to pick a place that's bearable to live in. You don't want to go somewhere and you hate the area surrounding it, that'll make for a miserable time there. Some people like schools with closed campuses, while others (like me), like the feel of the city and are fine with a campus that's a little spread out. This goes the same with the size of the school. You may want a school big like The Ohio State University or you want something a lot smaller. Either way you want to consider places that you'd be comfortable attending. You have to think about what YOU want and pick a school that reflects that. You also have to go visit! I knew I wanted to go to Pitt and OSU during my visit. Both schools felt right on top of me liking their locations.

2. Programs

It's not a requirement to know exactly what you want to major in before you step foot on campus, but it does help to have an idea. Let's say you know you want to go into STEM. Knowing that, you should consider schools that have strong overall STEM programs. Same for those that are creatives, you don't want to waste time at a place that doesn't have the resources you'd need to excel. Take the time to reflect on your interests, think about what you can see yourself doing long term (even if this changes down the road, that's OK!), and consider schools that cater to them.

3. Extracurricular Activities

If you're the type that wants to get involved in clubs/sports/Greek life/volunteering/student government/etc., look for those at the schools you're considering. If you go visit, ask your tour guide about student involvement. There's pretty much something for everyone, so participating in other activities gives you a chance to meet new people and develop other interests. These are the types of things that enhanced my college experience and they gave me a "break" from my hardcore science classes. I loved the volunteer work I did with the Collegiate YMCA and also being involved in NOBCChE at Pitt (and now OSU).

Those are the main ways I picked both Pitt and OSU. Let me know how you chose your college/university!

See you next week!

- The Chemist


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