Factors in Choosing a College
ALTHOUGH GUT INSTINCTS OFTEN PLAY A ROLE in choosing your future alma mater, you’ll need to create an initial list of schools using more concrete criteria, such as the following.
Strength of intended major
If you have some inkling of a major you’ll want to study, choose a school that offers it. Also, if you plan to attend graduate or professional school, confirm that your college of choice offers the right kind of undergraduate program accreditation to let you seamlessly take that next step.
Location and size
There’s nothing worse than being a country boy who is miserable among big-city commotion, or city slicker stuck in the doldrums of a small college in the country. That’s why it’s important to visit colleges you’re considering to get a real feel for the environment. A massive university might make you feel right at home, while a small private college leaves you feeling alone and homesick. Also, check out the average class sizes to get an idea of the faculty-to-student ratio.
As you make your checklist of important factors, ask yourself what you’d like to do with your spare time. Is there a Greek system? An awesome marching band? NCAA Division III football? Arts and cultural attractions nearby?
College isn’t just about academics. A satisfying student life can do as much to build your foundation for adulthood as any class.
Cost and financial aid
It’s OK to admit that money plays a major role in which college you’ll attend. Don’t just look at the cost of a school; look at the availability of financial aid, too.
Evaluate the school based on the net cost, not the sticker price. Sometimes the most expensive schools will offer more financial aid, which may come in the form of scholarships, grants, loans and work-study.