Choosing the right college can be a difficult decision, and determining what college is right for you ultimately depends on your goals and preferences. There are, however, some important factors that everyone should consider.
The size of the student population often determines the number of academic programs available, and it’s usually an indicator of what the class sizes and student-to-faculty ratio will be like. Small liberal arts colleges will likely offer a more personalized academic experience, but larger state school may offer a wider variety of programs and activities.
If you’re going to be spending four years there, you should choose a location you’re going to enjoy. An urban setting will likely provide more diverse opportunities for off-campus activities and internships, but a college located in a rural area may offer less distractions and a closer sense of community. Student life at colleges in Maine will differ greatly from those located in California, even if they offer the same programs. The distance away from home is also a consideration, and state-run schools usually offer lower tuition to state residents.
Some students enter college knowing exactly what career they want, and if you’re one of those people, you’ll want to find a college that offers a degree in the area you’re passionate about. If you’re uncertain or want to spend some time exploring, you’ll probably want to look at schools that have strong programs in many different areas.
A college education is expensive, so it’s important to consider how much you can afford and what kind of student loans you’ll be facing after graduation. As you make your list of potential schools, investigate financial aid and scholarship options.
Participating in student life is a large part of the college experience, so figure out what elements are important to you. Do you plan on living on-campus or joining a Greek organization? How much of the student body gets involved in partying? Check out what kinds of sports and extracurricular activities are available on campus.
A school’s graduation rate shows what percentage of students graduate with a degree after a certain number of years. Graduation rates are generally a good indicator of student satisfaction. If a school has a low graduation rate, it may indicate that the students are unhappy with the academic programs and choose to transfer elsewhere.
Thoroughly researching potential schools is important in making sure you’ll be happy with the choice you make. Before deciding on a school, you should also make a visit to get a feel for the atmosphere.