I know this isn't specifically a programming question, but please bear with me.

I'm currently a high-school junior. I have no idea what to look for in a college: what degree, what school, etc. I've searched all around the internet but can't really find anything that relevant. I know I need a degree, but I don't know which or what to specialize in.

My grades are good and I am in the top 15 percent of my class. I scored about a 1800 on the SAT and have not yet taken the ACT. I'd like to go to a 4 year school that doesn't cost too much.

What do I need to be looking for and what is important to colleges accepting CS students and the business after college?


Do what you enjoy. Too many people go into college for a degree in something they don't care about, just because it "will make them money"

If you enjoy coding, you might find a CS degree to be the right path for you. That said, you can always pick another interest and use your programming skills as a hobby / value adding skill. It's not at all uncommon to, say, get a degree in Biology and then do some sort of computational biology.

As for admissions, SAT scores and grades, etc. are very important. After that, I'd have to say it's the letters of recommendation and the essays you write. Ensure that those are top-notch and you'll do fine.

Steven Schlansker
+2  A: 
 I'd like to go to a 4 year school that doesn't cost too much.

For starters, through this out and go watch this video done by Randy Pausch. You need to go to a school that will challenge you and that you like. Your time is the absolutely most precious and valuable thing you have. You can always make more money, you can't get more time. There can be a huge difference between a public school which will probably cost you 40k and a private school which costs 100k when you're done. 100k sounds like a lot....until you realize that you spent 40k on the wrong school. Now the public school might be the right place. You might really like it there, but don't choose it, because it's the cheapest. If you like a school and it costs more and has a good reputation, go there.

What you need to look for is a college that has an atmosphere that you like , and that is challenging. Let me repeat that last phrase: and is challenging. You are spending a lot of time on your education. Don't waste it by going to a college you can coast through. If you are only in it for getting good grades and a degree, you're wasting your time (and the professor's which is extremely disrespectful).

The other big thing that you are looking for in a college, is the ability to talk to the professors. Being able to go in and have a conversation about why you don't understand something is big. It's really really big. I wish I had understood how big that it when I went to college.

Things that colleges are looking for are students who are somewhat well rounded (you should have some hobbies outside of just school work), and ones who are willing to work hard.

What gives a school a good reputation

Things you'll want to look for:

  1. Graduation rate
  2. Acceptance into grad school (you'll want to look at this on a department basis). Event if you don't want to go to grad school this is important, because it will show you how well they prepare their students.
  3. How well are the professors known in their field. Are they new professors, or are they about ready to retire. What is their specific field of study. (If you want to major in something you should do some research as to what the different fields are). With small colleges, you can probably sit down and have a 10 minute conversation with the chair, if you know what field of study (which sounds like cs) you want to go into. Most professors are very nice if you show interest in what they do and have to say.
  4. Talk to one or two of the students and see what they have to say. A senior in the department, will let you know what it is like.
  5. Look at the college ranking in various publication. I can't remember the name of the national rating service for colleges, but they are out there, and will give you an overall feeling how good the college is.
I guess I should have asked what gives a school a good reputation?
Travis O.
+1 - One heck of a well thought out and well stated answer.
Kyle Rozendo
Yep, answered perfectly!
Travis O.