What to Consider When Choosing a College

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When it comes to choosing a college, everyone wants to find the school that will be the best fit for them and most beneficial. It’s vital for your decision to be focused on your top college priorities. Here are some ideas to get you started in the areas of academics and the overall student experience.

picking college

1.) College Rankings for Academics

The definitive factor in your decision can be academic quality. Identifying your options and  researching college rankings will help educate you as to your views on what you want to learn, what you want to gain from the college experience, and how you imagine you’ll frame your degree.

2.) What Programs Are Offered

Choosing a school that offers the course of study you want to pursue is critical to school selection. If you’re torn between options, what can help you narrow down your list of potential colleges is to look at those that provide your major or the fields in which you are interested.

Make sure you have a wide range of majors to choose from. Take a look at whether the institution has graduate programs with concentrations in areas you’re interested in pursuing. Bear in mind that throughout college, many students tend to switch majors. Even if you know what you want to study, you might change your mind later. It’s beneficial having a range of programs available at the same college.

Every university’s requirements are different, so investigating the requirements before applying will help you to determine if you’ve got a good chance at acceptance.

3.) Is the College Accredited?

One of the most important metrics is the school’s accreditation, so make sure it is among the first things to research and review. A college or university can be accredited nationally or regionally. Accreditation makes sure that employers and other higher education institutions will acknowledge the degree.

Your undergraduate studies have to be completed at a recognized institution in order to get into a graduate school. Individual schools, departments, or programs within a college may also get their own accreditation.

4.) Research the College Faculty

An essential factor that determines the quality of an institution is its faculty. Investigate whether the college has highly qualified professors. You need to study with highly skilled professors who have teaching experience and real-world knowledge to ensure that you will be getting the best possible education.

Friends walking together

5.) How Is the Student Experience?

As college is a time of personal growth and as you choose a college, it’s essential to consider whether an institution’s values will set you up for success. Research what they offer to students besides a qualitative education and what makes it different from other universities. These are some of the things that will make a difference in your day-to-day college experience.

6.) What Student Services Are Offered?

Consider a school’s extracurricular activities, including clubs associated with a field of study, recreational sports, volunteer groups, and organizations. In addition to helping you make new friends through shared interests, clubs, societies, and on-campus events, these group activities provide you with the ability to learn necessary transferable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication.

7.) What is the Campus Culture?

College is a time to learn from perspectives different from your own. You’re not going to be challenged as much if a college has a uniform student body with student backgrounds that are completely the same as yours.

If this metric is important for your decision, research the college’s student demographics and check whether international students choose to enroll in this school. The school’s values and what they believe in say a lot and, in a way, determine how your personal experience there will be.

Friends studying together

8.) What Career Services Are Offered?

Another important thing to consider is how a university can prepare you for the future. Whether it be by continuing your education or by entering the workforce, check to see if a college offers comprehensive career services to help you succeed.

Many colleges invest in career counseling services. Career services can be invaluable in helping you find internships and employment. Check out the college’s career office to learn if they offer resources to help students secure internships through relationships with local companies.

Also, look into the university’s campus work availability, and research what work would be available on campus. A campus job can help you make an income, provide opportunities for career development, and can build up your resume.

9.) Does College Location Matter?

Weighing how far away your university is from home can be significant. Location can have a major effect on your overall experience at college.

You can start to make a decision based on your preferences. These can include whether you want a rural or urban setting, the weather, and even the location’s safety and attractions. If your concern is getting a job once you graduate, make sure your school is near potential employers.

10.) What Are the Campus Facilities Like?

Research what facilities your university has and ensure it has enough for you to sustain a healthy and productive lifestyle. A university that offers well-equipped academic facilities—such as e-learning facilities, mental health, or counseling centers to provide support to students in distress—shows that it is a student-centered institution, which in turn will contribute to your experience.

Choosing a college is a significant endeavor with plenty of different variables to review. Many students do not allow sufficient time or careful consideration to the process. If you carefully weigh these factors, along with personal ones, you will eventually navigate your way successfully through the process.

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Vesa Merxha is an English Language and Literature student who’s passionate about art, loves animals, and meeting people. She wants to pursue a career in writing with the aim to interact, inform, and educate readers—especially the youth—about diverse topics. She’s a content writer for the Bay Atlantic University blog.

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