So choosing a college is quite the task, especially when thrown directly in the face of a 16 or 17 year old student. It can be rather daunting, but have no fear, you will get through this! I have compiled a list (in no order) to help you out, ten things you should think about, or ten questions you should ask…yes I said ask questions, we’ll get to that later.
1. Do you like the campus environment? (this includes the surrounding area)
It is so important that you fit in at your college campus. This is where you will be spending the majority of the next four years of your life, you want to make sure it is a place where you’re going to be happy. Take a tour, or two! Come for an overnight visit, the more time you spend there the more you will know if it’s the right place for you.
2. What’s the cost?
Cost is very important for most students when deciding what college is the right fit. This is something you and your parents/guardians are going to have to discuss, between yourself and with the schools you are looking into. It shouldn’t be the deciding factor but it should be high up on the priorities.
3. What is offered for scholarships and financial aid?
This ties in with cost. Some schools have guaranteed merit based scholarships, some have talent based, some have both. Explore your options. Talk to the financial aid office at each of the schools you are looking into it is very important to understand the process of financial aid.
4. Is housing guaranteed for all four years?
Housing options are different at every school. If you plan to live on campus while you’re attending your chosen institution or even if you’re not sure, always ask if it is guaranteed, as with all of these things it is better to find out now than after it’s too late.
5. Does the school have your major?
You may think this is an obvious question but you’d be surprised, I’ve seen students fall in love with a school only to find out they don’t have the program they wish to study. Many students aren’t sure what they want to major in but some have an idea. Make sure you look over all of the majors that the schools you are looking at offer. Make sure each school has what you want or what you think you may want.
6. What clubs or activities are offered on campus?
I don’t know about you, but I wanted to truly enjoy the college experience to the fullest. Get involved! Join a club, go to campus events, it makes your experience that much better. Make sure to check out what clubs are currently on campus, also ask about each schools policy on starting new clubs.
7. What is the student to faculty ratio?
Each student views this question differently, some students want to go to a huge school where they are in fact a number and not a name, some students prefer there to be a smaller classroom setting, with a more personal relationship between the faculty and the students. Whichever category you fall under, it is always good to know the answer to this question.
8. Does the institution accept transfer credits? (AP classes, college in the high school credits etc.)
Find out the policy about transferring credits in as a freshman, make sure the classes that you work hard for in high school will count for something as you enter college.
9. Are there study abroad or internship opportunities available?
In the current economy, students are always looking to have, or at least should be looking to have, the upper hand in a job interview. Internships are a great way for students to gain “real world experience” and show future employers what they have accomplished. See what each school has to offer in the internship department.
Study abroad is something else that some students like to take part in while they are in college, make sure to ask what opportunities are available for your program to study abroad.
Last but not least…
10. What does this institution do/have to help me land a job/career?
Ultimately when you graduate college you are looking to find a job. Different schools have different resources available for career guidance. Find out what each school does to help their students in preparing for and landing their first “real job”.
Now back to that little thing I mentioned in the very beginning, ASK QUESTIONS! As an admissions counselor and someone who went through the process not too long ago, I cannot stress enough how important it is to ask questions. No matter what question it is, or how big or small or stupid you think the question is…ALWAYS ask it.
There is never a “dumb question” when it comes to deciding where you will spend the next four years of your life.