When searching for the right college, the search can be quite difficult. I would know, as I went through the process of searching for colleges not too long ago, and I remember how annoying and difficult it might be. There are a lot of things to consider when picking out a college, so you must weight each one to see how important it is to you, and then therefore make your decision. Here are some of the categories that are important to look when visiting a school.
1) Environment- This is a very important thing to look at when deciding what college or University you’re going to attend. They always say it’s important to make sure you feel comfortable in the environment, and that it makes you feel “at home”. There’s really only one way to make sure this is true for you, which is to spend as much time on campus interacting with others as possible. Try to visit the school when classes are in session, so you can get an idea of what things will be like when you’re there. If you feel comfortable in the environment, and can see yourself spending your college life here, then its definitely a big plus for that particular college.
2) People- The people is another huge thing to look at when visiting a college. Once again, try to visit when college is in session so you can see what type of people go to this college. If this looks like the crowd you want to be around and that you fit in with, then the college may be for you. Try to talk with current students, not just the people they assign to talk to visitors. Get a feel for what the people are like, and see where most of them are from, what they’re like, and whether or not you’re compatible with them. After all, if you don’t get along with the people going there now, chances are the freshman class will mostly be similar.
3) Location- Location is huge when looking at colleges. This is probably the first thing people say to you when you start looking at colleges. “Are you looking to stay local or go someplace else?”. This is a very important question to answer to yourself when looking for colleges. Make sure you pick a college that’s in an area you like. If you like an urban environment, a rural school “In the middle of nowhere” might not be the best option for you. If you’re from a small town, a school in New York City or another large urban environment might be too overwhelming for you. These are all things to consider before deciding on a college.
4) Food- The food is very important, especially if you’re a picky eater or a health conscious eater. Try the food out when you’re there, and see what you think. You can’t always rely on reviews and websites that claim to review college’s food, as many times no one gets good ratings, except maybe Princeton and other schools that charge $60,000 a year. If they don’t have food you like, maybe this isn’t a good choice for you, considering that if you’re going to live on campus, this is going to be the food you’re going to have to eat, since most colleges require meal plans if you live on campus.
5) Price-The price of tuition and room and board at a school is also a major factor in making your decision. If you’re going to be a teacher, there really is no reason to go to a $60,000/year private school. Try to go to a school that won’t create too much debt, but really is the best option for what you’re going to do with your life. If you want to be an engineer, there are both great private and public options. Be sure to do your homework on the costs of college, as you can really save a lot of money attending a public school if you’re major is covered there. Many public schools have just as good as reputations, and maybe even better than many expensive private schools.
6) Reputation- Reputation is important after you graduate, although not really as important as many people think. If you’re going to a school that has a good program than what you’re interested in, that should be a plus, but just because a certain school might have a reputation for partying doesn’t mean you’ll never get a job. Your GPA is more important than the school you got it at in many cases, except of course if you’re attending an Ivy League Institution.
7) Dorms- Check out the dorm rooms and make sure they’re something that you like. Don’t be too picky in this category though, as most dorm rooms are going to be small, and you’re probably not going to like the freshman dorms. Despite this, make sure they have what you need. I visited a private school that you had to pay for your own cable and phone service, and I visited public schools that gave you cable with HBO’s and phone service free.
Overall, picking out a college can be difficult, but if you follow some or all of the criteria I have mentioned above, you should have pretty good luck in your decision. If the school you chose meets all of the above criteria, then it sounds like you have a match, and will enjoy your time at your new college or university.