When you’re choosing a college, it’s only natural to focus on academics. After all, that’s your primary reason for attending! It’s definitely important to choose a school that offers a rigorous and well-respected academic program that supports your goals.
However, college is about more than just earning a diploma. This will prove to be one of the most challenging and rewarding times of growth in your life. The type of environment you choose will impact the opportunities and experiences you encounter. So, if you’re narrowing your college choices or touring schools this summer, use these methods to assess campus life.
Size. For some students, a larger university feels right. For others, a smaller and more personal environment is a better fit. The choice comes down to your individual preferences, and the type of environment you prefer. But surprisingly, many students never consider this factor.
Housing. Unless you plan to live and home and commute to a nearby university, housing will be incredibly important to you. Colleges vary significantly with regard to their housing options, so think carefully about the type of living arrangements you prefer: On campus, in a dorm, or off campus? Do you prefer a private dorm room, a typical double room, or a suite? What about amenities within the dorms? Do things like quiet hours and other rules matter to you?
Religious life. If you’re a particularly religious or spiritual person, you might prefer to attend a school that boasts a strong representation of your faith. On the other hand, a non-religious student might feel more comfortable in a more secular type of environment. Rest assured, there is a place for everyone!
Proximity to home. If you choose a school far from home, how will you travel back and forth? Are you okay with coming home less often? What if you miss important family events?
On the other hand, some students prefer the adventure and newfound freedom of an out-of-state school. Just make sure your choice matches up with your goals and personality.
Clubs and other student organizations. Are you hoping to join a fraternity or sorority? If so, a university with a large and active Greek life might appeal to you. What about your personal interests and hobbies? Are there activities you’re hoping to pursue in college? If so, it’s better to investigate offerings ahead of time. You’re more likely to find your tribe that way.
Food. Some people will eat anything… and then there’s the rest of us. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, for example, you want to choose a campus that offers plenty of acceptable choices. Or perhaps you’re just a picky eater, or you prefer to eat at unusual times, or you have a health condition that requires vigilance. Whatever your personal eating preferences, you won’t be too happy with a campus if you feel that you’re constantly fighting against the system just to achieve basic sustenance! So, definitely investigate dining halls and other food options before settling on a final school selection.
These are only six of the main things you should consider when choosing a college. Depending upon your personal preferences, you might have additional questions to explore. Just remember to take your time, prioritize your needs, and stay open to compromise. The perfect school is out there, waiting for you to discover it.