Some factors to consider when choosing a college include the cost of tuition, the location of the school, the size of the school, and the type of school. Some questions to ask when choosing a college include whether the school has your desired program, whether you will be able to get financial aid, and whether you will be able to get housing.
You should focus on factors such as location, academics and cost when picking a college to find the right school for you. That way, you’ll have your mind made up about where you want to enroll on National College Decision Day, which is May 1.
Common factors to consider when picking a school
There are a few things that future students think about when they are trying to decide which college to go to. Some of these things include how the school fits their needs, how overwhelming the school feels, and the details of their life.
- Location: Where you go to school matters, as it can impact how much you pay in school expenses such as tuition and room and board. Out-of-state students typically pay much higher prices than in-state students.
- Financial aid: Money is typically one of the biggest determining factors when someone chooses where to go to school. Submitting your FAFSA as early as possible can help you secure more financial aid when it comes to affording college.
- School reputation: A college’s reputation, particularly when it comes to the area of study you want to pursue, can make or break many students’ decisions as to which school to attend. Attending a school with a stellar reputation in the community, for instance, can help those students secure internships and future jobs.
- Academic programs: Enrolling in a strong academic program can help you gain vital experience during your college studies and even make important connections for jobs and internships.
- Size of campus: Starting college can be a jarring experience for a lot of new students. While some may prefer larger campuses where they have the opportunity to meet lots of new people, others may prefer smaller, tight-knit colleges.
- Size of classes: The size of your classes while you’re at college can determine how comfortable you are while learning. If your learning style is more personable, then it may be wise to steer clear of schools with large class sizes.
- Sports programs: If you plan to be a student athlete while in college, you’ll want to find a school that not only fits your academic goals but also has a sports program that feels right.
- Religion: If you are religious, you may be interested in a school that lines up with your values. Researching a school’s religious views can help you decide whether it is a good fit for you.
10 insightful questions to ask yourself when choosing a college
Most importantly, you want to go to college to get a degree and further your education, so you should research a college’s academics before enrolling.
Discover which majors the college provides, as well as the departments’ and professors’ reputations. If you have already decided on a major, research the college’s classes to see if the curriculum interests you.
The college you choose will have a long-term impact on your life, so it’s important to choose wisely, according to Lindsey Conger, a college counselor at Moon Prep. It’s okay if you don’t have a major figured out yet, but make sure the school you’re considering offers the area of study you’re interested in.
Some colleges offer large lecture style classes while others offer small seminars. Consider which learning style would help you advance academically.
The location of your college can have a big impact on your experience, so make sure you know what you’re looking for. Would you prefer to be in an urban area with lots of things to do, or do you prefer a smaller campus in a suburban or rural area?
The cost of attending a college in a rural area could be much lower than attending one in a large city. Consider the location when making your decision on which college to attend.
Campus visits are a great way to get a feel for the location of each school. If you can swing it, staying overnight in a dorm room is the best way to get a real sense of the college experience.
Most students need to figure out how much it will cost to attend a particular college before making a decision about which one to attend. With college tuition being higher than ever, you might regret attending a school that has a very high price.
Conger says that you should make sure that it is possible for you to attend the school from a financial standpoint. He states that there are options such as loans, scholarships, and grants available, but you should take some time to think about how much money attending the school will cost you.
Visit the college’s financial aid website to learn about the total cost of attendance. At the same time, review your financial aid award letter to understand what aid you are being offered. Remember, financial aid award letters often include student loans as part of the “award,” but of course, loans must be repaid.
Manville advises not to take out too many loans and to compare the total loan amount to the estimated salary in the first year. The total loan amount should be less than or equal to the first-year salary.
Before taking out any student loans, make sure you understand all the terms and conditions. This is especially important if you’re also taking out private student loans. You don’t want to end up with more debt than you can handle. Another option is to get a part-time job during college to cover living expenses and reduce the amount you have to borrow.
The school offers more than just academics, there are also clubs, teams, and other extracurricular activities. You can join sports teams, participate in community service activities, or join an a cappella group if you like to sing.
Adam Smith, former director of undergraduate admissions at Husson University in Maine, suggests that students should ask what is there to do on the weekend, and whether everyone tends to stay in the residence halls. Some schools may be known as a “suitcase” campus, where everyone packs their bags and leaves because they are close to home and/or work. This can often make students who stay in the residence halls feel homesick and question their decision to attend.
Your school may offer opportunities for internships or on-campus jobs outside of clubs, teams and events. Also, you may be able to spend a semester or two in another country through its study abroad program.
If you’re looking to live on campus, you’ll want to tour the school and check out all the facilities before enrolling. This way, you can get a better sense of what you’ll be doing for the next four years.
The condition of a school’s dorms, cafeteria, gym, auditorium, and labs might help a student decide which school to attend.
You could try reaching out to current students or alumni to ask about their experiences at the school. People might see things differently, but students past and present can give you firsthand insights into the school’s academics or culture that you wouldn’t hear about otherwise.
1. What do students like and dislike about the campus? 2. What do students think about the quality of the facilities and classrooms? 3. What do students think about the quality of the professors? 4. What kind of advice do students have for potential students?
You could also research the retention rates to see how many students come back year after year. If the school has a very low retention rate, that might mean that the quality of education is not very good.
Anna Ren, a college admissions consultant suggests that a good way to get insight into how well a school supports its students is to look at the school’s graduation rate.
Ren emphasizes the importance of a school’s four-year graduation rate as an indicator of the school’s ability to help students succeed.
If you’re planning to or are required to live on campus, you should research the dorms, the roommate selection process, and the cost of room and board.
How comfortable you feel in your living situation can have a big impact on how well you do and how happy you are in college, so it’s important to pay attention to the details.
The dorms vary in personality, with some being more social and some being more academic-focused. You can choose your roommate, and the dorms have various amenities, such as laundry facilities and common areas.
Asking yourself these types of questions can help you to decide what kind of living arrangement you would prefer while taking classes.
You’ll be spending a lot of time in class while you’re at college, so you may want to find out what taking classes is like.
What is the average class size at this school? How do the professors within your major typically teach, and what is the workload like?
What is your learning style? Do you prefer large classes or small ones? Asking yourself these questions can help you decide whether you think you’ll be successful in the classes at your potential new school.
It’s also important to learn about your professors’ office hours and how approachable they are when it comes to helping students. Class size is not the only factor that can affect your academic experience.
One factor that will influence your decision about which college to go to if you are an athlete is the school’s sports program.
Some things to consider when choosing a college athletic program are if it meshes with your goals, if you’d get along with the coach, and if you fit in with the other athletes.
How much leeway do you have with class schedules and activities? What is the balance between your commitment to your team and the commitment to your studies like?
What’s the total cost of attendance at each college? Compare the offers from the schools you applied to. Consider the scholarships being offered and the total cost of attendance at each college.
Be sure to also consider how you feel about the location of where you want to go to school and the quality of the facilities when making your decision. It is just as important to go with your gut feeling about the school.
It is valid to make your college decision based on how you feel about the school, according to Shannon Zottola, vice president and dean of enrollment management at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. If you feel excited about going there and feel that you will be secure and OK on that campus, trust your instinct, as it generally will be the right fit.
You are aware of what you like and do not like, so do not be scared to let your intuition guide you.
The following are additional important questions you may want to consider when picking a college:
- What scholarships does this college offer?
- What is security like on campus and does the school have any safety issues?
- Are there jobs available on or near campus?
- Are fraternities and sororities on campus and are they a large part of the college’s culture?
- What are the graduation rates and what percentage of students graduate on time?
- Does the college have an honors program?
- How much debt do students typically graduate with?
- How much financial aid are students typically offered?
- Would I prefer the school to be located in an urban, suburban or rural setting?
- What is the size of the campus and what are the transportation options?
- Is the school public or private?
- What is the student-faculty ratio?
- Does the program I want to go into offer internships or connections for jobs?
Choosing a college is a significant choice, and the solution isn’t always straightforward. Be sure to get all your questions regarding college life answered so you can feel good about your decision.
You can always transfer to another school if you find that the one you chose is not right for you. Hopefully, the answers to the questions above will help you choose the perfect school so that you can earn your degree without taking on a lot of student loans.