Each of us has unique needs, educational goals, and priorities that influence where we choose to go to college. While each influence is important, the most important things to consider are your career aspirations and what you want out of your college experience.
Part of your process will involve deciding which criteria matters most to you. As a first time college student, knowing which criteria to consider important in your college search can be tricky. That’s where this list comes in.
In no particular order, here are the 10 factors to consider:
- Your major department's achievements
- Career placement
- Hands-on experience
- Cost of attendance and financial aid availability
- Degree completion time.
- The student/faculty ration
- Housing options
- Majors available
- College size
Want to know why each of these is so important? Check out the details below.
1. Your major department’s achievements. Chat with a professor in your prospective major department about the things the department has achieved in recent years. Have they added new facilities, concentrations or internships? Ask about honors, innovations and achievements of individual professors.
2. Career placement. College is all aboout getting the education you need to get a job in your ideal field. Talk to the college’s career services office about internships, employers in the region, job placement rates, and opportunities available to graduates.
3. Hands-on experience. Hands-on experience is an important credential to have on your resume upon graduation. Talk to your prospective department about internship placement rates, the ideal time to apply for them, and how that will fit in with your regular coursework.
4. Cost of attendance and financial aid availability. Cost of attendance varies from college to college and will cost more than just tuition. Be sure to inquire about costs associated with housing, parking, meal plans, books, and any other materials that will be needed for your major.
5. Degree completion time. While evaluating cost, consider how many students graduate within four years. The amount of time it takes to finish a degree varies from college to college and can also depend on the requirements of your major.
6. Student/faculty ratio. The size of a class may impact how you learn and how much individual attention you receive. Check with the admissions office to find out the average class size.
7. Housing options. Housing options vary so you should be sure to find out what is available. Do they have freshmen-only housing? Are students required to live on campus? Can you bring your car?
8. Majors available. If you’re unsure about what career you’d like to pursue or if you’re going into college undecided about your major, a school with more majors to choose from may be better for you.
9. College size. College size is a big factor for a lot of students. On one hand bigger schools are likely to offer a wider range of majors, but on the other hand, you might enjoy the more personalized experience that you would at a small or medium-sized school.
10. Location. Location can be important for a variety of reasons. The first two things most students consider are proximity to family and the size of the city in which the school is located. The location also impacts activities you may enjoy outside of class. If you enjoy kayaking or the beach, for example, you may want to consider a place near the water.
There are many factors that impact your decision on where to attend college. Use this list to evaluate the colleges you’re considering and choose three or four factors that are most important to you!