Graduating high school is a fine achievement and there is usually a party and lots of gifts; but what happens after that? There then looms a big decision: College or no college? And even further after that there is the question of which college? Here are a few criteria to consider when picking out the college or university you will attend.
1) Do I want a big campus, or something small? Campus size does matter. A smaller campus provides an easier time getting to classes, whereas a larger campus may have more opportunities (i.e. sports, graduate programs, dormitories). Finding the size is important because it narrows your search down a bit.
2) Do I want a large student population, or something more intimate? Believe it or not, this is a different question than the previous one. Student population has a big impact on how a college can feel. Large populations can be either highly social or sometimes isolating. Small populations mean smaller class sizes and more one-on-one with the professors. Its all to do with your learning style, and what kind of feel the college gives you.
3) Location. Always an important criterion when making any decision. From an inner city college to one that it literally out in the cows, there is a wide variety of campus locations. College towns are fun because there is tremendous school spirit. Inner city colleges can be exciting because of the close opportunities for work and nightlife. Which is most important to you?
4) Academics. The major question is whether or not the college offers what you want to study. For example, the Naval Academy offers a general education with an emphasis on military topics. It also requires service in the military so think carefully. VCU is a highly art based school, so if you want to major in science I would give this one a pass.
5) The feel. Go and visit any college you are considering attending. The best time to go is the middle of the semester, when the campus is alive with activity. Go and sit and watch the life around you, maybe take a tour, maybe try and talk to some of the students. A college can seem great on paper and be not what you wanted once you get there. On the other hand, a college may not seem out of the ordinary until you set foot on campus and get the feeling that this is home.
It’s an important decision, one that could affect how you do in college. Keep this in mind though: if for some reason you decide you want to transfer colleges after beginning somewhere, talk to your adviser and find out the best way to arrange it. Good Luck!
Photo Courtesy of: Kathleenfanske