One of the most common questions I get is: how many colleges should I apply to?
To each their own, but please do you research first. I have worked with some students who have applied to up to ten schools and some who have applied to just one. While I recommend applying to more than one school, I would also recommend asking the following questions:
1). Does the school have a major I am interested in? And if so, what is the rate of students who go on to work in that field after college?
2). What is a school's first-to-second year retention rate (read: number of students who return to the school for their second year)?
3). If there are opportunities you know you're looking for, does the school offer them? Internships, externships, study abroad, etc. If not, are you willing to do the work to look elsewhere to get these opportunities?
4). Overall value of a degree from the institution: return on investment. At the end of the day, you’re a consumer and you should be well informed regarding the quality of education and returns you’ll gain from this school. If you’re looking for more information, check out: http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/affordable-colleges-with-high-returns/.
Yes, cost of attendance and financial aid should play a role in your decision, but there are more factors to consider than just the money. At the end of the day, I urge you to make it a point to be informed and ask questions. I was giving a presentation about this topic the other day and someone asked me: will a school take the time to answer my questions and help me? I would say: they should. And if they don’t, well…think about it. You are going to be investing time, money and energy as a student- choose wisely.