How is the party scene? Where do students go during spring break? While this information may be important to you, it is probably not the best questions to ask when choosing a college.
Instead, it would be wise to focus on factors like location, education, and cost to find the right school for you. That way, when National Colleges Decision Day takes place on May 1, you will have your choice of where you want to register.
7 relevant questions to ask yourself when choosing a college
If you’re deciding where to go to college, asking these important questions about college life, education, and affordability can help you make the right choice for your future.
1. Do the academic offers correspond to my objectives?
First of all, you’re heading to college to further your education and graduate, so obviously you’ll want to find out about academics at a university before you decide to enroll.
Discover the specialties offered by the school, as well as the reputation of its departments and teachers. If you already have a major in mind, check out the courses the college offers to make sure the program catches your interest.
“The college you choose will impact your life longer than the time you attend it, so this is one of the most important questions to think about,” said Lindsey Conger, academic advisor at Preparation of the moon. “It’s okay if you don’t have a specialization yet, but check if the school offers the area that interests you. “
You can also take class size into account, as some colleges favor large, conference-style classes, while others offer small seminars and lots of face-to-face time with professors. So think about your learning style and the approach that would best help you progress academically.
2. How do I feel about the location?
Location can make or break your college experience, so be clear on what you’re looking for. Do you want an urban environment with a lot to do? Or do you prefer a cohesive campus atmosphere in a suburban or rural setting?
Costs can also vary by location – for example, going to school in the middle of New York City could cost a lot more than a suburban campus – so take this into account when deciding on the location that’s right for you. the best.
Visiting campuses is a great way to assess the location, as you can see firsthand what it would be like to experience and go to each school. There are ways to make college visits affordable, and you might even stay overnight in a dorm to get a real feel for the experience.
3. What is my cost of participation?
For most students, it is crucial to estimate the cost of attendance before choosing a college. With tuition fees higher than ever, you will likely regret committing to a school if its price is outrageous.
“Make sure it’s financially possible for you to attend this school,” Conger advised. “While there are options like loans, scholarships, and grants, really take a few days to think about the monetary impact it will have on you. “
Check the college’s financial aid website for its total costs. At the same time, study your financial aid award letter to understand what is on offer. Remember that financial aid letters often include student loans as part of your “bonus,” but of course, loans are not free money.
“If you have to take out loans, make sure you don’t take out too many loans,” advises Sabrina Manville, co-founder of Edit, a company that helps families prepare financially for college. “For reference, many experts suggest estimating the salary you will earn in your first year and comparing it to your total loan amount for all four years. The total loan amount must be less than or equal to this first year salary.
Make sure you understand all the terms before borrowing student loans, especially if you are also taking out private student loans, so that you don’t get into more debt than you can handle. You might also consider working part-time while in college to cover living expenses and reduce the amount you need to borrow.
4. What can I do outside of class?
Beyond academics, find out what the school has to offer in terms of clubs, teams and other extracurricular activities. Are there sports teams you can join, community service activities you can participate in, or an a cappella group if you like to sing?
“Students should ask what to do on the weekends, and everyone tends to stay in the residences,” suggested Adam Smith, director of undergraduate admissions at Husson University in Maine. “Some schools may be known as a ‘suitcase’ campus where everyone packs their bags and leaves due to proximity to home and / or work. This can often cause students left in residences to feel homesick and question their decision to attend.
Outside of clubs, teams, and events, find out if your school offers any internship or job opportunities on campus. And if you want to spend a semester or two in another country, check out its study abroad offers.
5. What are the facilities like?
If you live on campus, you could spend up to four years in a college dorm and eat in your school cafeteria. So be sure to tour the campus and see all of the facilities (or at a minimum, check out photos online) before committing.
While you can’t expect a dorm to be the most stylish living situation, at least you want to be comfortable where you are. And if you are struggling to choose between two schools, the quality of the dormitories, cafeteria, gym, auditorium, laboratories, or other facilities could give you an edge and help you make your mark. choice.
6. Do the students like it?
If you can, contact current students or alumni to ask about their experiences there. While different people may see it differently, students from the past and present can give you first-hand insight into academics or school culture that you wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.
Prepare a few questions to ask when visiting a campus, as this is your chance to hear what students have to say.
You can also search data on retention rates, to see how many students are returning year after year. If the school you are considering has a very low retention rate, it could raise a red flag about the quality of education there.
Anna Ren, university admissions consultant who directs Elite Advantage Preparation, similarly suggests looking at the school’s graduation rate to get a glimpse of how it supports its students.
“It is important to know if a school’s four-year graduation rate is low, as this may indicate that the school does not have as many resources in place to help students cross the line. ‘arrival,’ Ren said.
7. Does it suit you?
Finally, don’t forget to check with your instincts where you want to go to college. While all of these considerations about location and quality of facilities can help you weigh your options, it’s also important to trust your intuition.
“Making your college decision based on how you feel about a school is valid,” said Shannon Zottola, vice president and dean of enrollment management at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. “Are you feeling excited to go?” Do you feel that you will be safe, that you will be well on this campus? In the end, let go of all the checkboxes and give in to your emotion. If you trust your instincts, this will usually be the right solution.
You have a good idea of what draws you and what doesn’t, so don’t be afraid to let your internal compass guide you.
Try to get all of your questions answered before choosing a college
Selecting a college is an important decision, and the answer is not always clear. Make sure you get all of your college life questions answered, so you can be confident in your decision.
Of course, you can always transfer if the school you choose turns out not to be the right one for you. Hopefully, however, that your answers to these questions above will lead you to the perfect school where you can graduate and avoid taking out a heavy amount of student loans.