Making a decision on a school is one of the most important investments in one’s life. Make sure you make the right choice by considering these six traits of a potential college:
Consider the city and surrounding cities of the school’s campus, and also pay close attention to the neighborhood where the college is placed. Are there things to do outside of campus? Is the neighborhood around the campus safe? Also, determine how far you want to live away from your home town; do you wish to come home on holidays and whenever you like, or are you comfortable with living across the country?
Consider what housing options the school provides; does it provide dorm rooms, apartments and more? Find out if the dorms are co-ed or same sex, how many roommates you may have and if the bathrooms are communal or in the dorm room. It is very important to be sure that you will be comfortable in the living situations provided and what situations you definitely could not tolerate before deciding a school.
Financial Aid Options
The U.S. Department of Education awards billions of dollars in financial aid in the form of grants, loans and work-study. There are also special benefits and taxes for certain demographics that may benefit you. Make sure that the school you choose has the ability to provide all financial aid options to you.
Sit in on a few classes, talk to the students and have conversation with professors to determine if the academic environment of the school is good for you. Student-professor ratios are an important component of the environment of the school, so a low ratio is best if you require strong interaction with the professor. Don’t just find out if study abroad programs are available in your major at a potential school if you plan to use that option; make sure that the programs and academics are also strong within those programs.
If your political views may be liberal, you may not have the best time at a politically conservative school. Talk to the students at the school and see if you’ll be comfortable with their ideologies. Check around the campus to see if there are niches that you may fit in well. Check out the overall demeanor of people on tour and determine if they appear happy; it gives you a definite preview of everyday campus life. Determine if you will be comfortable at a school with a religious affiliation; oftentimes chapel attendance will be necessary there. Notice the interaction between students of varied backgrounds and determine if they all interact often to determine if you yourself will fit in.
If you are sports-oriented, you may be unhappy at a school that focuses more on academics with a mediocre team to root for. Look for a school high in school spirit; game days typically mean that school is shut down for the day. If intense school spirit bothers you, the many game days may become a dreaded day for you. If you are a vegan, seek a school that has vegan options in the cafeteria. Even if you do not have special dietary requirements, check out the food in the cafeteria to determine if it looks like something you would look forward to eating every day.