Three More Important Considerations When Looking at Colleges – not just food, football, and fun!
Many students I’ve encountered in my career fall into the trap of looking at colleges for all the wrong reasons: because their friends were going there, they liked the football team, or they had the best “party school” reputation. While those factors can contribute to an interesting social life, they should never be the deciding factors in choosing the university at which you will spend the next four years of your life. Here are three other things that matter far more:
1. The size of the school: It’s simple. If you are an introverted homebody, you’re more than likely going to thrive in a smaller university closer to home. Likewise, if you grew up in a tiny high school (63 graduates in my class), and you want to experience more diversity, then venturing away to a larger school won’t stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Your ability to plug into the campus community directly affects your academic success. If you’re stuck in the dorm miserable or driving home every weekend, your school performance will suffer. Know yourself and your limitations before you jump into an environment just because your friends are.
2. Choices of Major: Many students don’t realize that each university does not offer the same majors. Some schools will only offer programs as a minor, which requires you to major in something different. Whether or not you are committed to one particular field of study, make sure your prospective schools offer a variety to give you plenty of options.
3. The surrounding areas: You will want to venture off-campus eventually to get a change of scenery. Are you comfortable being in an urban environment? Do you like culture and diversity? Do you like to explore the outdoors with hiking and camping? These are all factors to consider that will play into your overall experience in that town or city over the next several years, not to mention the opportunities for future summer internships in your chosen field.
While these factors may not seem like a big deal as you romanticize your future college life, they are truly the predicting factors for your happiness and success in college. Know yourself and choose wisely!