10 Things To Consider When Choosing A College

Elizabeth Witbeck

Going to college is an important step in your life, and extra time should be spent researching universities to be sure you are going to the one that will best fit your needs.

There are many factors to take into consideration when searching for the right college. Here we have compiled a list of the top ten aspects of a university that are important to consider when applying.

1. Location: Most students consider a college’s location when thinking about where they want to go to college. Some students want to stay close to home, while others want to go to school in a different state or even in a different country. Some students want to be able to drive home on the weekends or even live at home, while others enjoy being independent for the first time in their lives. Think about whether you would enjoy living in a city atmosphere or in a more rural location during college.

2. School Size: The size of the student population is another important consideration when choosing a college. Schools can vary widely in their sizes: some only have a couple thousand students, while large universities can have tens of thousands of students. Often small colleges offer more intimate class sizes, while large universities can offer a larger array of academic programs, as well as research opportunities.

3. Curriculum: Some colleges specialize in technical and vocational programs, while other schools are dedicated to the liberal arts. If you decide to go to a liberal arts college, you will take a variety of different courses in many subjects. Technical colleges, on the other hand, value taking courses solely within the department you are specializing in.

4. Majors: Many people already have their major in mind when they start searching for colleges to go to. Some majors are very unique, such as equine studies or oceanography, so if you are looking for something specific, remember that your search may be more limited. Also keep in mind that many people change their majors while they are in college.

5. Demographics: What is the student population of the universities you are considering like? Factors such as the ratio of men to women, the racial diversity, the political leanings of students, religion on campus, and other aspects all play a part of campus culture. Figure out what demographics are important to you, and find colleges that meet your needs.

6. Student Life: Some schools have an active campus life with clubs, activities on campus, Greek life, athletics and more. Other universities are more commuter-type campuses and people go home on the weekends. What type of social scene are you looking for in a college? Be sure to find a college whose atmosphere matches what you are interested in.

7. Extracurricular Activities: Universities offer a wide array of clubs and activities to get involved in. If you were part of your high school choir, or played basketball in school, then you may want to apply to colleges where you can join in those extracurricular activities as well. Also, you can look at university as an opportunity to become involved in completely new activities you have always wanted to try.

8. Cost: This is probably one of the most important considerations for college. There is no denying that college is expensive. Sit down with your family and think about what you can realistically afford to pay for college. Many public universities and community colleges offer less expensive tuition for students who want a college education.

9. Financial Aid: At the same time, keep in mind that very few people pay full price for college. There are many grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study opportunities available as part of your financial aid package. Don’t be quick to dismiss a university based on price until you see the financial aid package you are offered. Your financial aid offer usually comes after your admission acceptance letter.

10. Rankings: Many very ambitious students care about going to a “good” college. There are several ways to rank the quality of a college, and websites and bookstores abound with information about what schools have the best reputation in certain areas. A university may be ranked as best in sports, or best within a certain academic department, or best in diversity. Students may want to research school rankings to see if they are applying to colleges with a good reputation.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a college, and these are just a few to get you started. Ultimately what you should think about are the things that matter most to you. If you want a very diverse college, if you want a university with a spectacular study abroad program, or if you are determined to be on your school’s football team, what matters is that you apply to universities that have qualities that are important to you. Best of luck in your college search!

About The Author

Elizabeth Witbeck

Elizabeth Witbeck works as a college consultant and educational entrepreneur. She launched the first business in the United States that sends care packages to first generation college students, and also helps prospective college students on their applications. Her interests include education, poverty, and working with youth.

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