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What are the factors to consider when researching about a college/university?

BrightSun21234BrightSun21234 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
I am future-college student who is just beginning my college search. I would like to know what are some factors that I need to consider when looking at a college. I would also like know what do each of those factors mean about a college/university.

Replies to: What are the factors to consider when researching about a college/university?

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 27,895 Senior Member
    Do you have any schools in mind? Any ideas at all?

    My one kid really loves sports. He wanted a school that had the facilities and teams and spirit because going to football and basketball games was something he enjoyed. Though we did look at schools that didn’t have this sort of thing in place because other features came up as he went deeper into the college search, thstveas at least a start.

    Penn State had always been his ideal school. So we did some visits which included PSU, Bucknell, Dickinson, Gettysburg, UDelaware, UMD-CP. Friend was applying to BC l, NE and Holy Cross so we went along

    Those visits did were surprising in that he liked some schools a lot despite lack of big sports, and he did feel the love for PSU that he thought he would.

    So if you can do a few visits that cover a variety of schools, it can open up your mind to possibilities. If not, you try to do it vicariously

    The most important constraint is usually money. What can and will your family pay for your college? Will you qualify for financial aid? Do you have a non Custodial parent in the picture? Going away to a private school can cost over $70k a year. Depending upon your state the costs range usually from $20-40k.

    What kind of courses have you been taking in high school? What are your grades? Any indication on what your test scores may be?

    What’s available locally? The first school you should nail down is an affordable school, that has what you need to get you on the way to a degree, that will gladly take you. Once that school is in your pocket, you can do whatever you want in the way of applications with wild abandon. You want to buy lottery tickets by applying to highly selective schools, you find some interesting possibilities, go ahead. If you need financial aid or merit money, and you want to keep it real, you want to make sure you apply to schools that have it. If you have a well to do Parent who won’t pay, applying to a bunch of schools that give no merit money is not likely to come up with real possibilities.
  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 Registered User Posts: 480 Member
    edited May 19
    Many people begin by figuring out the size and type of school they want. This is usually divided into liberal arts colleges (LACs), large research universities, regional universities, and community colleges (with the plan to transfer). There are also some specialty schools, such as music schools, art schools, and technical schools (particularly for engineering). A good way to decide on this is to visit a few examples of each school in your area, so you can get a sense of what size works best for you. They all have their pros and cons. LACs usually have more one on one contact between professor and student. Larger schools tend to have a lot more classes and energy--and just more people to possibly interact with.

    From there, you can think about whether you want urban, rural, or suburban. Most people can rule out one end of the spectrum. You might love or hate big cities, or love or hate being in the "middle of nowhere."

    Then, you can look at what schools are good at what you want to major in. There are lots of rankings online. Don't take them as the only truth, but they are a place to start. If you don't know what you want to major in, talking to your guidance counselor at school is a good start. Take some time to research majors related to your favorite high school topics. (So, if you like history, google around a bit to see what majors are related to history.) Be really open minded, and realize there are a lot of subject that maybe you would love that you haven't had a chance to study yet in high school. Kids who are super undecided often like to go to LACs because they typically offer a lot of flexibility.

    Other factors that a lot of people take into consideration:
    -school culture (preppy, crunchy granola, Greek system, artsy, etc)
    -location and ease of transportation to home (this can add a lot to the price)
    -how well the students do who go there (look at the school's Common Data Set to see graduation and retention rates, as well as their career services, which will often list where this year's grads are working)
    -housing options, meals, perks, etc (I personally don't put much weight on this, as it's only four years, and everywhere is fine, basically, but for some people, it's really important. This is especially true if they want to live on campus all four years. Very few schools have room for that.)

    That's a lot to digest to get you started and to narrow down your search a bit. I think it's easiest for those kids who know they really don't want something. For instance, if there's an area of the country that you wouldn't consider living in for some reason, or if you really in your heart of hearts know you don't want to be more than 500 miles from home.

    Best of luck!
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