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Deciding on which college after getting several acceptance letters is a pretty hard and stressful decision to make. The situation may get even worse if you did your homework well and applied to schools which you wouldn’t mind spending four years.
Here are some of the things you should consider before choosing to join one.
The main reason you are going to college may be to broaden your academics, and if so, this should be your biggest priority when choosing a school. Factors to consider under academic life include:
1. The school’s curriculum.
Every school has its own curriculum that might differ from others.
I was a library and information sciences student, but I noticed students from other universities had several major options like IT, but I did not get that chance.
Curriculums vary from school to school, and you should check that out.
2. The school’s graduation rate.
This is very crucial when choosing a college because graduation is the main reason you’re there. If you can’t graduate, then why join the school in the first place!
Before making your decision, take a look at how many students actually finish their degrees to get a better picture. Compare with different universities before making your final choice.
3. A school’s freshman retention rate.
It is crucial that you check the percentage of freshman students who return to colleges for their sophomore year. A high rate will reflect that students are generally satisfied with the college and would like to continue with their studies.
If the retention rate is low, however, students may be unsatisfied with the school. It might also be a lot of students failed in their freshman exams, another thing you should consider.
4. The student to faculty ratio.
If a college has a 1:700 student: faculty ration, then this would be disadvantageous to you. You might end up not seeing and being able to directly interact with your lecturers as you’re too many in a class.
I was pretty lucky to be in classes where the student to faculty ratio was favorable, and I easily got some personal help whenever I required it.
It is important for you to examine the student to faculty ration if you will need the one coaching from your professors while at college.
5. The size of the college.
After analyzing the student to faculty ratio, you should also look into the size of the college.
This is a very personal choice since some students would prefer a small college where they practically know almost everyone, while others prefer a large school where they can have their privacy. Others will prefer attending classes in a hall-like lecture room while others will prefer small classes.
It’s all up to you and your comfortability.
6. Professional/graduate school options.
If you have high ambitions of joining a graduate or a professional school (e.g., a medicine or law school, etc.), then you should check out how many students from the college join graduate schools after their studies.
This info will shed some light on whether the school has adequate measures to help and prepare students to pursue further studies after their 4-year undergraduate degree.
7. Quality of professors.
This is vital if, at all, you’d like to get some of the best training. The professors should be highly-skilled and also have some real-life experiences. For example, many professors from Miami University in Ohio attended Ivy League Schools.
I studied in Kenya, and one of my lecturers was a librarian at the Kenya National Library Service (KNLS). So she would always give us jam-packed info on how to handle libraries practically.
8. Getting a job after school.
If you’re worried about landing a job right after school, then you should look into the school’s stats. Some schools have programs where they help their students get placements programs were students can transition from learners to employees and finally land a job.
You must have attended an accredited college for your undergraduate to join graduate programs. If, for instance, you happen to attend an unaccredited college, you can’t secure yourself financial aid for your graduate degree.
Well-known colleges and universities always have this accreditation. However, for smaller colleges, this might not be the case. Make sure you counter-check before you make your final decision. You can check if the college is accredited here.
10. Study abroad opportunities.
Some schools offer to study abroad opportunities for their students, although not everyone will obviously meet the requirements. It is vital to first research on this if you’d like to try your shot in having an out-of-the-country experience with your education. Check out the programs offered and which countries are included.
Also, check if the college will support you when you’re abroad.
Although my course did not have this chance, students studying food science had study abroad programs. The school used their thesis and research as a metric to determine if they qualified. Those who met the requirements had a full scholarship to study abroad and implement their ideas.
As much as academics are essential, your social life is an equally crucial tool for you to have a beautiful college life. Your experience at school should also be adventurous, fun and memorable.
Yeah, academics are important, but the power of socializing and networking should never be undermined, the more reason you should consider the social life in a college.
Here are some factors you should consider:
11. On-campus living.
Most students’ life starts in dorm rooms as you’ll interact with so many new people. Chances are you’ll be spending most of your college time in dorm rooms before you know your way around college, necessitating you get the right dorm essentials.
If you’d like to live on-campus, be sure to check for availability beforehand.
12. Party life.
Partying may be a huge influence of which university you’re going to join if you like the hype. I know you’ve probably watched movies or heard stories of how college parties are, and you might have a rough idea of what to expect. I do love partying, and it was one of the things I considered when I was choosing the school I joined.
You can check out The Princeton Review to find out where the college you’re thinking of ranks.
13. The greek life
If you’ve always dreamt of sororities and fraternities, then you must consider this while choosing your college. Some schools do not have a greek life, and in other colleges, it is very minimal. However, other schools have embraced the greek life and students can bond with their honorary sisterhood and brotherhood.
If you’re feeling a little buzzed by it, you can consult with your parents and ask them if they were part of sororities. You can even ask if they’d like you to join the same sororities they were a part of.
14. Whether your friends will be joining the same college.
College is part of growing up and forming new connections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you cut your friends off and totally avoid them.
But wait. Imagine starting afresh where no one knows you, and you get to determine and grow how you’d want without having to answer to anyone. You get to meet and hang out with other people, experiment on some stuff.
While going to the same college may seem like an excellent idea right now, it will probably not seem that way in a few years.
College gives you the chance to push yourself to new dimensions. If you go to the same college as your BFFs, you’ll most likely end up doing almost the same courses and living in the same dorm rooms. At some point, this may seem a little too much, as you won’t be able to meet and socialize with other people compared to if you did not have your BFFs in the same college.
Safety is paramount to enjoying your college life. Check out the public safety and campus police websites to get an idea of how colleges are safe.
16. Extracurricular activities and sports.
The more extracurricular activities a college offers, the easier it will be for you to find one that you’re interested in. Which clubs does the college have? Are there any volunteer activities? Are there recreational sporting activities?
I did consider sports when I was joining the school, seeing I love playing chess. My coursemates held football matches with other courses, and oh boy, did I love screaming my gut out during those matches. I’d say it is a huge stress reliever.
Well, in one way or another, finances will definitely affect your college life.
Here are some aspects you should consider:
17. Financial aid.
While some schools offer some form of financial aid to their students, others don’t. If you feel like you’ll need financial assistance, be sure to check up this aspect before joining college. The college’s website will most likely have relevant information geared towards the different financial assistance packages that the school offers to its students.
The school’s website might also have some information on the % of students who are on the program and the amount of financial aid the school gives out.
18. Students working.
It is usual for college students to take up part-time jobs to help them meet some of their financial students. While some schools have no problem with working students, others will have zero tolerance and will instead insist that you first concentrate on your studies.
If you’d like to work while in college, be sure to check the number of working students in that school. You can also check if the school offers students some working positions that sometimes help with financial aid.
You can look at some of the jobs I did while in college and maybe pick some that you can do later on.
19. The cost.
Unless you have a hefty college fund savings to help you out, cost will most likely influence your choice of school. It’s always advisable to choose a school where you’ll be comfortable financially. While others will choose pricier schools, other students will prefer attending college without accumulating massive student loan amounts. Be sure to include tuition as well as room and board when you’re calculating the total cost you’ll need.
While choosing a college might seem hectic, you can use the above metrics to make the process easier. You don’t have to use all the parameters to make your decision, just pick the most relevant to you and decide based on those.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you LISTEN TO YOUR GUT when making your final decision.
All the best.
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