Most agree that college is one of the most exciting parts of life, but not everyone has the same college experience. There are a vast number of universities all across the country that are each unique in their own ways.
When it comes to deciding which school to attend it’s essential to take everything into account. After all, college is a substantial investment and it’ll be your home for four years. Here are eight things to look for while selecting a college:
1) What Majors are Offered and What Programs the School is Known For
Most universities offer a wide range of majors to choose from, but that doesn’t mean they offer what you want to study. Furthermore, even if they’re a top ranked school and offer a major you’re interested in, it doesn’t mean they’re a premier school for that program. For example, Carnegie Mellon University is a top 25 school and famous for subjects such as computer science, engineering, and drama. While they have many great majors to choose from, if you know you want to study English there are many better options for you.
There are great schools all across the nation; UC’s on the West Coast, University of Michigan in the Midwest, Ivies on the east coast, and Vanderbilt in the South. If you want to go to Harvard, make sure you’re okay with long winters and lots of snow. Spending four years in weather or climate you hate can affect your mood as well as your academics. Moreover, your school’s location can influence future job opportunities because you’re more likely to receive job offers close to where you attend college.
3) Cost and Financial Aid
Many private universities cost north of a quarter million dollars to attend over the course of four years. If you’re able to pay that much out of pocket then then congratulations, but if you’re like most people you’ll need help to pay such high costs. Most colleges offer reduced tuition costs for lower income families, but the amount of reduction varies from college to college. To get an estimate on how much financial aid you may receive you can go to each university’s website and find a net price calculator.
4) Campus and Student Body Size
Large, densely populated schools offer a very different feeling than small, liberal arts colleges. Some students like big campuses with lots of students because there’s never a lack of things to do, but other feel overwhelmed by such schools. On the other hand, some students like small campuses because of things like small class sizes, but some students at these schools feel like there’s not nearly enough people.
5) Study Abroad Programs
For many students, studying abroad is an integral part of the college experience. Some schools emphasize traveling abroad while others don’t have abroad programs at all. If traveling abroad is important to you make sure your university can help you out.
6) Organizations and Greek Life
School organizations and Greek life are often sparsely considered while selecting a school. Many students use organizations as a way to connect with other students. Also, many colleges have very competitive organizations that look great on resumes. There are many universities with limited amounts of clubs and no Greek life, so make sure you investigate these before deciding where to go.
7) Academic Environment
Are the students around you motivated and able to push you to be a better student? Are there academic support systems to ensure that you will succeed at your school? These aspects are important in determining how academically successful you will be at your college. Furthermore, succeeding in academics is a crucial part of enjoying your college experience so make sure to consider schools that can help you out when you’re struggling.
8) Overall Environment
Ultimately, it’s important that you’ll be happy while you’re in school and when you graduate. Picking a school just because of its rigorous reputation or its fun parties isn’t all that matters. Pick a school where you feel challenged but comfortable and happy.