Thinking about college is exciting for most students, but the uncertainty of choosing a major and the “right” college can be overwhelming.

The good news is no one expects you to know today what field you’ll be working in down the road. But weighing your options, knowing what to look for in a college, and how to successfully navigate the process are the first steps. Whether you are a parent contemplating your child’s future, a high school junior just starting to look at colleges, or looking to transfer―we’ve done some of the homework for you by suggesting our top 10 ways to help you choose the best college for you. So, sit back, take a deep breath and consider the following:

1. Think about what you love (and don’t love)

What lights you up inside? What areas of study have you enjoyed and excelled at? The best starting point when researching a college is to review its academic degrees and reputation in the field. Most freshmen are undecided on a major, but having a game plan to find the right fit for you can help take the stress out of the process.

2. Big or small―not all colleges and universities are the same

Think about your personality and if you would feel happier on a large campus surrounded by thousands of students, or on a smaller, more intimate campus.

It’s also important to consider your learning style. Larger universities tend to have hundreds of students taking their core classes in stadium-style classrooms, or even online. Some students thrive in a more autonomous environment. Other students may prefer smaller classes. It all depends on what makes you most comfortable.

3. Set your sights high

Education experts agree you should look outside your comfort zone when applying to college. When researching your options, familiarize yourself with the college’s GPA guidelines, SAT and ACT score requirements, as well as application deadlines. Don’t limit yourself to just the colleges you feel you can be accepted to. It’s advisable to apply to at least two or three colleges, with one of them being a “reach”. You never know unless you try, so go for the unexpected. You may be surprised at the results.

4. Location, location, location

Think about how close you want to be to home. Will you thrive if you have your family close by, or are you O.K. with being an airplane ride away?

Setting plays a big role. For example, students who have lived in a rural area their entire life might want to break away and attend a college in an urban location. Other considerations include the social climate of the town. Is it a “party college” with a bustling environment or is it located in a quiet, secluded area?

Another important factor to consider is your field of study and related jobs in the area. Vaughn College aviation students, for example, have the best of both worlds. Not only can they study a wide range of fields including aviation, aviation maintenance, aeronautics, engineering and avionics at one of the top colleges in the nation, but the campus is located steps away from New York’s La Guardia Airport and major employers in the New York metro (learn more about our history with these airports here) area looking to hire recent graduates in related fields.

5. Go on college tours

Seeing is believing. Researching colleges and universities online or reading about them in fancy brochures is one thing, but experiencing the campus firsthand and meeting faculty one-on-one through campus tours is the best way to get a real feel for the college (most colleges, like Vaughn College, have Open Houses or one-on-one visits). It’s also an important step in the process for your family, as it is a great way for them to see where you’ll be living for the next four years.

6. Affording it all

The thought of paying for a college education may seem out of reach, but the good news is there’s money out there to help you pay for the costs. There are government grants and scholarships, which is money you don’t have to pay back. There is also the option of government-funded student loans offered at lower-interest rates. Even better news to consider is knowing that many private colleges offer generous financial aid packages to qualifying students as a means to offset the costs.

So, don’t let the price factor deter you from applying to your dream college. At Vaughn College, for example, 90 percent of the students qualify for some form of financial aid.

7. Check out the application process

You may have heard stories from friends about the acceptance or rejection letters they received. The truth of the matter, however, is that most colleges and universities have a higher admittance rate than rejection rate. That’s not to say that some colleges are more selective than others, but knowing this fact going in can help you prepare ahead of time by not putting all of your eggs in one basket. By having other options, you may end up being finding a college that is a better fit.

Vaughn College offers the convenience of “on-the-spot application decision” to students with all the required materials. Students are encouraged to schedule a one-on-one appointment where an admissions officer will review their transcript and offer them a decision on the very day of their visit.

8. It’s never too late to learn

There’s no handbook saying you must attend college straight out of high school. Some students decide to take time off to travel or for personal reasons. Admissions officers will embrace the opportunity to hear about your experiences, so don’t fear that you’re too old or that it’s too late to apply. The truth is it’s never too late to learn.

9. Reputation

Be sure to check out a college’s academic, campus and student life. Important factors to research include the strength and experience of the faculty, easy access to resources, social clubs, sports programs, Greek life, and campus amenities such as on-campus housing and meal plans. These are an essential part of college experience and can make or break your time. Doing your research today can save you time and money down the road. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about finding the best fit for you.

10. Talk to Alumni

Did you ever say to yourself, “Wow, he or she has the best job. I wish I could do that.”? Well, just know that your dream may be closer than you think. They started out just like you―with the same questions, uncertainty and maybe even fears. The good news is they did it and so can you.

Let us introduce you to just a few Vaughn graduates who are living their dreams―dreams which may be just like yours:

Erika Barcenes – Class of ’13 – Bachelor of Science in Aircraft Operations

Jefferson Maldonado– Class of ’16 – Bachelor of Science in Mechatronic Engineering


The Vaughn College men’s basketball team has been at the top of their game when it comes to performance and teamwork. This year, the Vaughn Warriors are looking to take home the championship, having made it into the playoffs every year, as well as reaching the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) Championship game for the past two years.

This season, the team has eight new promising players that Ricky McCollum, coach and director of athletics, fitness and wellness at Vaughn, says has rounded out the team for what he believes is going to be their best year yet.

Training to Compete at a Higher Level

Vaughn College Men's BasketballMcCollum and his assistant coaches have established a winning combination of recruiting star players by scouting local high schools and holding open tryouts and summer camps.

With passion and knowledge of the game, McCollum has spearheaded a structured and well-rounded fitness program to help his players build their confidence and compete at a higher level. Players can expect to undergo a comprehensive program of strength, speed and resistance training?as well as agility skills training?to fine-tune their conditioning and prepare them for playing at the top of their game.

Keeping players in the game requires them to stay academically focused. McCollum says he encourages his players to take advantage of “academic study halls” to learn the importance of time management and to master the balance between their studies and sports.

Last season, one of the team’s star players, Michael Pena, won Player-of-the-Year, and three all-conference players were recognized. McCollum also won Coach-of-the-Year in a unanimous vote by his peers.

Choosing to Play for Vaughn

Vaughn athletes receive incentives that exceed skills training. Vaughn proudly supports its athletics program and has a stellar reputation of having one of the highest graduation placement rates of any college in its class. McCollum explains how he and his staff go above and beyond to create an environment for success to help students further their careers by offering mentorship to guide them every step of the way.

“We provide a wide variety of fitness and wellness programs across the board for all students, not just our athletes,” said McCollum. He explained how his department collaborates with the residence hall staff to create programs such as the “House of Wellness Program,” which is a six-week fitness challenge, as well as other programs that include yoga, Zumba and strength challenges, just to name a few.

A Word from Coach McCollum

Vaughn Warriors in team huddle“I don’t believe any dream is too big,” McCollum said. He thinks every player deserves the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Each year, the athletics department brainstorms on a team slogan for the upcoming season, and McCollum said this year they decided on “We Are One.” “The entire Vaughn community comes together to support our team,” he said. “Things are looking promising this year. We are strong and ready to go to bring home the championship.”

Sponsored by Nike

In the athletics world, the Nike “swoosh” logo is synonymous with sports and quality reputation. The Vaughn Warriors are proudly sponsored by Nike, with the sporting giant supplying about half of the team’s apparel and equipment.

Other Varsity Sports at Vaughn

Vaughn believes on leveling the playing field by offering a wide-range of sports programs for students of varying athletic talents. Among the programs are men’s and women’s cross country, tennis, basketball and men’s baseball and soccer. McCollum states how players on all teams at Vaughn can expect to receive the same support and mentorship to make their athletic experience a positive one.