When you’re researching your college options, most high school juniors and seniors focus on factors such as: Proximity (or distance) from home, cost, programs offered, residential options, campus life, and so on.
Those are obviously going to be important to you, and for good reasons. But there are other factors to investigate, that many students don’t even consider because they’re not all that exciting. While these might not be deciding factors for you, they are worth investigating and at least being aware of them.
Freshman retention rate. How many students return to the school after their first year? This statistic can reflect the school’s effort at helping new students adjust to college life and academics. It can also demonstrate overall student satisfaction with the first-year experience.
Graduation rate. How many students actually graduate? What about the students in your particular degree program? After all, the whole point of attending college is to get that diploma at the end. Graduation rates can reflect on the amount of faculty interaction and support that a particular school offers.
Percentage of students admitted to graduate school. If your particular career path includes graduate school, you need to know how well a college prepares their students for admission.
Student to faculty ratio. A low ratio indicates smaller class sizes and (most likely) closer working relationships with faculty members. A high ratio can indicate enormous, 500-student classes, and a lack of personal guidance. This might not bother the motivated independent learner, but many student desire a higher degree of interaction with their professors.
After-graduation employment rates. Any school can boast high employment rates. After all, most graduates end up working somewhere. More specifically, investigate the percentage of graduates working in their chosen field. This is a question to ask individual departments, as you tour your prospective schools. Some degree programs prepare students for employment with faculty guidance, job fairs, recommendations, internship placements, and more. Others pretty much leave students to make their own way.
These stats might not make or break your decisions, especially if you love a school for other reasons. However, they are definitely worth investigating, so that you have a good idea of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of you.