Picking your college is a massively important step in the pursuit of your dream goals. Whether it is to follow in the family footsteps or branch out on your own, the college you choose can help you find the career you have always wanted.
This is why choosing a college should come with a series of criteria that need to be met to satisfy you. Picking a college on a whim can leave you upset with a lack of services you need, programs, and other important factors that make a school the right option for you. Here is what criteria should be met when choosing a college.
Student to Faculty Ratio
You might not consider it, but actually meeting with professors or academic advisors can be incredibly hard when the student body vastly outnumbers the faculty. The ratio of student to faculty, on average, is around 16:1, with prestigious Ivy league schools being even less than that. The better the ratio (ie. smaller) the easier it is to get the help you need to make your academic journey easier with assistance.
Another big one is obviously the cost of tuition. Some schools are based on semester tuition rates, while others make you pay for the entire year. This is likely one of the first things you will look for as you probably do not want to spend an exorbitant amount on tuition to the point where you are in debt post-graduation. Some schools will have comprehensive breakdowns of fees and tuition, so check that out to see where your money is actually going and decide if it is worthwhile.
Demographics of Student Body and Faculty
Choosing a college where you feel comfortable is an utmost need. You would not want to feel like the only person in a room of others because it could be a culture shock and make you feel excluded. Demographic breakdowns of student bodies and faculty are comprised of age statistics, race, religious denomination, and gender, among others. You might want to attend a college that is primarily female to feel safer, and if you visit this page, you can see there are plenty of options. Likewise, you might want to attend an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) for similar reasons.
Post-Graduate and Professional Programs
After you finish your undergrad you might be thinking about continuing your education. Post-graduate programs, usually Master’s degrees, as well as professional schools like law or medical school, are offered by many colleges. If you plan on pursuing these goals long term, it is never a bad idea to research if your intended college of choice can offer it for you instead of having to find another school and go through the reapplication and moving process once again.
Social and Party Life
It is entirely okay to be concerned about the quality of social life and party life at a prospective college. You want to get a quality education but also enjoy your spare time as well and make friends. Checking out rankings for top party schools is something that many students have been doing for years, to the point that there are rankings that are comprehensive as academic rankings. Choosing your college could mean finding somewhere that is fun as well as academically sound and can be included in your criteria. This includes social nights, group activities, and other non-partying related socialization, like extracurriculars.
Location and Campus Accessibility
The location of your college is an important part of your criteria because you want to live somewhere you will enjoy. Some people enjoy living in warm climates year-round while others love the fall/winter months.
The geographic location is not the only important location, the distance to your campus from any housing or apartment you have, as well as transportation accessibility is vital to know. Is there enough parking if you drive? Adequate bus and public transit? Knowing how easy it is to get to and from campus is as important as how nice the campus is too.
Program Options and Rankings
Lastly, the choice of programs is a must. You might not be sure just yet but you want options when you finally decide to specialize in an area of study. Likewise, do these programs have a lot of options? Peer mentorships, internships, work-study programs, or study abroad options. Also, are these programs ranked well nationally and help lead to jobs? These are must ask and must research questions for your criteria.
Choosing the best college for your future is a big job, but it is important to feel you are making the right decision. Spending the next four years of your life studying for your dream career should involve these important criteria questions to ask.