While the college process may seem difficult to some students, deciding which college to attend is very significant. There are different aspects of a college that students should take into account from how far it is from home to if they offer your dream major or club on campus.
As someone who has gone through the college process myself only five years ago, I always asked myself how would I know when a college was right for me? The only question that kept circling in my head was what if I made a decision that I ultimately did not agree with later. Thus, I would love to propose advice on which questions to ask yourself when going through the college search process.
What is the Location Like?
Location can be a huge factor in choosing a school. There is lots to experience for students in terms of weekend activities, academic life, housing, and more depending on where your school is located. Some students may prefer a larger city in which they can meet more people and connect with bigger companies on a professional level. Others may prefer a more remote community in which they can really be apart of the campus life on the day to the day basis while connecting easily with their professors and classmates.
In addition to where the college is located, many students may ask themselves if they like how far it is located from their hometown. Some students may want to live close to their college and have the opportunity to go home once a month and eat a dinner with their friends and family while others would want some further space away.
Are the academics aligning with your learning style?
It is important that students are focusing on the academic environment of a college as well during their process. My advice would be to focus on programs that you may have an interest in! At some schools, you do not have to declare your major until a few years into your experience, but if there is a program that you think you may want to major in and the school does not offer it, this may be something to take into consideration.
It is also important for students to ask themselves what specific kind of learning style do they prefer that they would want in their school? For example, do you enjoy big lecture based halls or smaller individualized classrooms? Do you enjoy discussion based topics or writing papers based off lots of research? Be sure to ask yourself these questions in relation to what you want accomplished in your academic experience over the course of your four years.
Is there a presence of campus community?
If you are someone who enjoys a big presence of community in your life, it is critical to ask yourself what kind of experience would you want outside of your classes? Whether this be joining the club soccer team, attending huge football games with friends, becoming president of your SGA, or even singing a Soprano I part in your Acapella club, it is essential to consider if your college would allow you to get involved with these things.
It is also imperative to ask yourself if you are someone that enjoys the idea of tradition and if your school has a sense of traditional events? This may look like throwing a student into the school lake on their birthday or serenading the freshmen girl’s hall on the first night of classes. If you are someone that enjoys a sense of belonging through traditional occasions, this could be a special factor in helping you choose your school.
In addition to getting involved, another big part of community is the people that actually live on campus. Are students living on campus and for how long over the course of their four years? For example, if students live on campus all four tears, it is very easy for them to maintain their relationships because they now are a two-minute walk from one another rather than a fifteen minute car ride.
Is there an area or building on campus for students to gather with one another and socialize whether that be at a Starbucks or an entire student building for activities?
Can I find my people here?
And lastly, ask yourself if you would feel a sense of belonging and if you could visualize yourself finding your people at that specific school. It could be important to ask yourself what is the social scene like, what would you gain from being and getting involved on campus yourself, is there a stress culture on campus, and how do different students support one another during difficult times?
It may not seem easy to choose the right school, but asking yourself some of these questions will ultimately help you think about what is the best school for you and you alone. Always be asking yourself, could I see myself being happy at this future school and these few questions are a great guide for this. Remember to always trust your gut and not only will you find the school, but the school will find you!
By Jillian Newton, Admissions Counselor