Academics and career planning matter most when selecting a college: no one will deny that. However, the importance of finding the best social fit in a college is often downplayed. College can be tough, and attending a school where you feel welcomed, supported, and can foster lifelong friendships matters a great deal. Therefore, while you’re considering the academic rigor of a college, also take note of the social aspects and which ones you’d like. You can learn about a college’s social life in a number of ways.
The best way to get a feel for a campus’ social life is to go there yourself. You can meet students, sit in on classes and events, and get a feel for what the average student is like there. While you do this, note the similarities and differences between the students and your current social circle. For example, how do most students spend their free time? Where do they hang out, and what do they do? Do you see yourself fitting into a similar social experience? At some colleges, students tend to hang out in coffee shops and read or discuss current events. At others, they tend to go to large parties or sporting events. Most colleges will have a mixture of this, but some will lean more heavily towards one type of social experience.
You’ll also want to consider the kinds of student groups on a campus. While many colleges have a wide variety of campus activities, you can tell a lot about a college’s social life through featured or popular activities. Outdoor activities may be popular at one college, while arts groups may take the stage at another. Finding the best social fit in a college includes considering your favorite past times and which colleges seem to share these past times.
You can also peruse online groups affiliated with a college to learn more. This works particularly well if you’re unable to visit a college in person, or if you want to talk to current students on a more regular basis.
The location of a college can factor into the college’s social life a great deal. A small college in Ohio will likely have a very different social feel than one in New York City just by virtue of its location. Furthermore, some students choose a college based on its location for what the location has to offer. Thinking about where you do or do not want to live can have a surprising effect on your college experience socially.
A college may offer amazing academics, but if you fear becoming socially isolated there, it may not be the best fit after all. Finding the best social fit in a college matters – you’ll be spending the next four years of your life there. It’s also an intensely personal decision. When you have friends, family, or teachers encouraging you to go to one college because they went there or love it in some way, make sure you always keep in mind whether you think you’ll love it, too.