How to Choose a College

Choosing a college is a big decision. This information sheet includes important things to think about when deciding what type of college will be the right fit for you.

    1. What do you want to study?

      Students shown from behind wearing backpacks on a college campus.

  • Make sure that the colleges you are interested in offer what you want to study.
  • If you are unsure what you want to study, find a college that offers a wide range of choices so you can try out a few things before deciding on a major.
  1. How much do you want to spend?

    • College can be expensive. Private colleges are usually more expensive than public colleges, and community colleges are usually even less expensive.
    • Determine how much money you want to spend, where you will get this money, and if anyone will help you pay for it.
    • Don’t forget to include things like books, housing, transportation, meal plans that will add to the cost of college.
  2. How long do you want to be in college?

    • Many colleges offer two-year degrees called an associate degree, as well as four-year degrees called a bachelor’s degree. If you don’t want to go to school for 4 more years, you may want to look into colleges that offer a wider variety of associates degrees.
  3. Where do you want to live when in college?

    • If you plan to live at home, your options for colleges may be more limited. You can always start at a community college close to home, and transfer to a college farther away once you know what to expect in college.
    • If you plan to go away for college, you need to decide how far away you are comfortable living. 20 minutes? 1 hour? 10 hours?
    • You also should think about the type of setting you want to live in. Do you want to live in a big city or a small town or somewhere in between? These things can impact the types of activities and events available to you when you’re in college.
  4. Do you think you’ll need any special services?

    • If you had an IEP or 504 plan in high school, you’ll most likely need accommodations in college as well. All colleges have Disability Services, but some schools offer more support than others. When looking at schools be sure to check with each college’s Disability Services department to learn what is available.
  5. What else is important to you?

    • There are other things that can impact your college experience. You may want to also consider things like:
      • The size of the college
      • Number of students per class
      • Extracurricular activities
      • Social groups

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.