What are the most important factors to consider while researching colleges?
The goal of researching colleges is finding ones that are both a good match and fit for the student academically, socially, emotionally, and for the family, financially.
First, will it provide the kind of education you’re seeking? If you want to be a nurse, or an engineer, you need a nursing program, or an engineering program. Does it support that program with good facilities? If you’re an artist, what are the art studios like and when are they open? and so forth. What are the graduation requirements – too stringent? too liberal? just right for you? What is the social atmosphere on campus? Does the college offer extra-curricular activites that interest you? the athletics you can participate in? and so forth (again). After you’re satisfied that the college will provide the education you seek, can you afford it? Check out financial aid. Only then is it relevant to find out whether or not you might be accepted. (NB you should already have some clue about that from your GPA and test scores)
That the schools have the right curriculum and backup programs if you change your major. How much a school has awarded in financial aid is also a factor as well as what % of freshmen are there after 4 years. You should have a checklist of what’s really important to you and make sure the school can satisfy all your needs wants & desires.
There are, of course, several factors to consider when researching schools. But, I would say that there are some of the major things a student should consider:
1. Location (city, suburb, town, country)
2. Size of school
3. Major (does the school have the major you want to study)
5. Extracurricular activites
6. Distance from home
First and foremost what are you as a student looking to accomplish with your education plan and how much is your budget? Without a budget and a goal in mind, the rest of the factors will be a moot point.
Obviously you are going to care about the academic press at the college. I also believe that it is important to consider the extracurricular options as well. All work and no play is not healthy. Plus, if you’ve had a tough day in the classroom, you want to look forward to going back to your residence hall. How engaged are students on campus, does the place empty out on the weekends, what do folks do to relax? It goes without saying that financial aid packages can be a deal breaker. Please, please, please make sure that you look closely at those award letters and separate out the grant/free $$ and the loan/debt burden you’ll be saddled with. Some students will only want small size classes, while others are looking forward to big time college sports. Others want city vibe, some want the suburbs and others like the idea of being in the middle of no where with a cute campus town. All of these factors are easily observed as you tour campuses.
The first consideration should be your choice of major or desired field of study. If you are focused enough and are ready to make this decision as you enter college, then clearly you must begin researching those schools that offer what you wish to study. If you are undecided, which is perfectly ok, then consider the following in any order of importance to you: size (both of the campus and student population), geographic location, setting (urban, suburban, rural), financial aid consideratons (need blind, no-loan, 100% need met) and “other.” The “other” must be things that are important to you outside of the biggees listed above. These are things like sport team enthusiasm, study abroad programs, co-op or internship opportunities, housing options, etc.
You determine what the most important factors are. Before you start “shopping” for colleges, you have to know what you’re shopping for. Decide what are the three or four essential qualities a college has to have in order for you to consider it, and you’ve got your most important factors. then go find the schools that have what you want!
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EducationDynamics maintains business relationships with the schools it features. The sources for school statistics and data is the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.