Just like the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” neither will you wake up one morning and know exactly where you should attend college. Instead, you’ll make a series of minor decisions to discover compatible schools based on your wants and needs. To ease this stressful process, here are nine essential characteristics you must consider when choosing a college:
The first question to answer is, “How close is too close to home?” Be honest with yourself. Keep in mind important details like transportation costs. Next, “Where in the world would you love to be?” Have you always wanted to live on the East Coast? Here’s your chance to experience it without making a permanent commitment. Finally, view the weather realistically – it can radically affect your new life.
Some colleges are enormous, while others will contain fewer students than your graduating class. Each size boasts certain advantages; bigger schools usually have more major opportunities and options, yet smaller schools can devote increased individual attention. Therefore, decide which environment you prefer and which will help you grow.
Since you won’t be in class all the time, it’s important to check out what else a potential college offers. Do you love to play recreational sports? Look up the intramural program. Colleges are renowned for their plethora of extracurricular activities.
4. Public or Private:
College is expensive, no matter which type you choose. However, public and private schools are funded differently. Public schools receive money from state government, meaning their tuition is significantly lower for in-state residents. Private schools cost much more, but are usually blessed with a large endowment (translation: money donated to the school) to bestow generous scholarships.
5. Academic Programs:
It’s easy to forget the fact that you’re attending college for an education. Whether you know exactly what you’d like to major in or have completely no clue, you must decide on a school able to cater to your needs. So, if you’re absolutely undecided, pick a place with a myriad of majors that interest you.
6. Special Services:
College is preparation for the rest of your life. Your school should offer a variety of programs and services to simplify the segue. Expect thorough assistance such as pre-professional advising (for students going on to professional schools like medical, dental or law school) or career counseling.
In addition to extracurricular activities, college is filled with chances to enhance your education. Programs to study abroad, internships and volunteer connections expand your mind and provide the experience of a lifetime. Investigate information about supplements to educational endeavors.
8. Learning Style:
Colleges don’t teach in a “one-size fits all” rhythm like high school. Everyone has different learning styles, which colleges recognize. Do you perform better when solely concentrating on a single subject? Then check out block systems, where you take one class for three weeks at a time. Need to connect your curriculum with the real world? Service learning supplements the classroom teaching with community involvement.
Lastly, thoroughly examine the school. Look at student body demographics (i.e., the ratio of girls versus guys), the surrounding area and lifestyle of the college. This information can be found in official school materials, but also from communicating with former students or your career counselor. The fundamental question to ask yourself is, “Could I fit in here?”