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5 Things to Remember When Choosing an Atlanta-based Program

Atlanta is home to several post-secondary schools including Georgia Tech, Emory University, and Georgia State University. Along with these traditional baccalaureate schools there are a number of technical, trade, career and community colleges in the metropolitan area.

Choosing the right program is a very important decision that can affect your entire future. Studies have shown that the majority of students spend more time researching used cars than researching their college major.

Below we take a look at 5 things to remember when choosing an Atlanta based program.

1. Determine What You Want to Study

Knowing what you want to major in is half the battle. Most students don’t give much thought into what they want to study until their sophomore year. Data shows that students who have no major selected are more likely to dropout during their first two years than students who know what they field they want to study. Experts agree that students should not choose their major solely on the salary it pays. Students should choose a major and career field based upon:

  • Interest – Students often make the mistake of majoring in fields that pay a high salary rather than doing something they love. Studies show that students who graduate and work jobs based only in the high salary last less than five years. The money is nice but it gets old after awhile and won’t keep you at your job. And if it does you’ll be trapped into doing something you dislike.
  • Salary – Salary is an important factor and should be in line with the lifestyle that you desire. If you want to live in a mansion and drive fancy cars, then teaching and social work may not be your thing.
  • Capability – Let’s face it, not everyone is made to be a doctor or an attorney. Each person has specific talents, strengths and weaknesses that lend themselves better to certain majors. If you enjoy working with your hands and are very mechanical, chances are you won’t make the best customer service person.
  • Morality - A rewarding career and major must line up with your personal beliefs. Some careers cross people’s moral and ethical boundaries so you should be aware of what those boundaries are before going down that path.

Many students do not know their strengths, weaknesses or their personality type. Most schools have career centers that can help students figure out what they're best at and what types of careers they may enjoy by engaging in career counseling and major selection. Students who go through this process end up making a better choice and often avoid switching majors like so many of their classmates.

2. Develop Criteria to Select School

Making a concrete list will help you to fairly evaluate each school. A list of criteria could include:

  • Majors offered
  • Location
  • Student population
  • Public vs. private
  • Cost
  • Financial assistance
  • Accreditation
  • Class size
  • Social life
  • Religious affiliation
  • Housing options
  • School reputation
  • Campus resources
  • Graduation rate

3. Make a List of Possible Schools

Now that you’ve got some characteristics of a school you’d like to attend thanks to Step 2, it’s time to choose some schools you want to look into. Atlanta has over 30 colleges and universities so you’ll have plenty to choose from. There are a variety of large public universities, small private colleges, trade schools, religious schools, and art colleges. What’s great about Atlanta is that there is a college for virtually everyone.

4. Narrow Down Your Choices

Create your short list by doing some web research of the school’s website as well as your list of criteria. Chances are you’ll be able to cross some off right away. Narrow your choice to around 5-10 schools so that the list is manageable. You’ll want to involve your family and friends but you want the choice to ultimately be yours.

5. Plan Visits

All this web research cannot compare to visiting the school in person. Most colleges and universities in Atlanta have staff that will be more than happy to take you on a tour of the campus. Remember, they want your money for the next four-six years so they have a vested interest in you visiting their school. You’ll want to check out classes, talk with students and teachers and spend some quality time on campus. It’s not a bad idea to visit your favorite schools more than once.