If you’ve been accepted to more than one college, congratulations on your accomplishment! Now it’s time to determine which institution to attend. Listed below are nine factors of college life to consider.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to attend a college from which you will graduate. Yes, you want to be happy and comfortable, but you’re going to school to get a diploma. Compare graduation and retention rates to get a sense of how students fare.
2. Financial Aid
Each institution will offer its own financial aid award letter that will explain the aid it is prepared to offer you. Compare the letters and determine which institution is providing the best offer.
If at all possible, visit the campus; walk around, eat in the cafeteria, go to the library, and sit in on a class. You can even call ahead and arrange to stay overnight in one of the dormitories.
Does the institution offer a major in the area you’d like to study? If you don’t know what you want to major in, does the institution provide you with sufficient options?
Determining where you’ll spend the next four to six years of your life shouldn’t be overlooked. Do you want to go to college close to home or far away? Would you prefer to be in an urban, rural, or suburban area? Does it matter if there is little to no diversity on campus or in the surrounding community?
6. Campus Life
What’s the campus like? Is there a lot of school spirit? Are there a variety of clubs and organizations?
Would you prefer a small student population (3,000 students or less), or a medium (3,000-6,000 students), large (6,000-15,000 students), or very large (15,000+ students) population?
8. Support Services
What types of support services are offered? Are there tutors and counselors available? Is there a career center to provide career assistance and guidance about entering the workforce post-graduation?
9. Campus Safety
Institutions that participate in federal financial aid programs are required to maintain and disclose information about crime on and around their campuses and report statistics on alcohol and drug violations, illegal weapons possessions, and hate crimes per The Clery Act. How does the institution handle safety and security issues on its campus? Is there a system in place to communicate safety and security concerns with the student population and campus community?
List the pros and cons of each institution that has accepted you. Weighing all the factors may help you to decide the school that’s right for you.
Chelsea L. Dixon, M.S., M.A.T. is founder and CEO of GamePhox Unlimited L.L.C. She is a motivational speaker and the author of “Bridging the Gap: A Simple Guide to College.” Dixon earned a B.A. in sociology from Boston College, an M.A.T. in secondary education from Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) and an M.S. in sport management from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. You can learn more about her at www.gamephox.com or www.bridgingthecollegegap.com.