In the last 70 years, the number of institutions of higher education in the US grew from 322 junior colleges in 1949 to around 4,300 colleges and universities in 2018, according to US News. With these many schools, it can be overwhelming to choose one over another, especially considering the amount of time, energy, and money people pour into their college educations.
Don’t worry. This article will enumerate the essentials to keep an eye out for when looking for your university.
Level of School Spirit
It’s not so much as looking for the best colleges as it is looking for what’s best for you. That said, some people prefer their school spirit loud, proud, and intense. These schools typically ease off classes on game days. Some prefer the more subtle school pride. You know it’s there, but it’s never in your face. Some couldn’t care less about school spirit altogether.
So which one are you?
This is important because it’s something you’ll be bringing with you, too, after you complete your program and earn your degree. Plus, this decision also informs the kind of peers you’ll be spending a lot of your time with.
Location of the Campus
There are a lot of other factors that campus location dictates. This can be better explained by answering the following questions.
- Are you willing to travel? If so, how far are you willing to go?
- Do you want to live and study in a more city-like environment, or do you prefer somewhere a little less busy?
- How often do you plan on going back home?
- Will the expenses of moving, cost of living, and other financials be an issue?
- How involved will your parents be with your college life?
- Do the campuses you have in mind close to hospitals, malls, restaurants, or other establishments that might be important to you?
- Is the surrounding area safe?
This is also directly related to your potential housing options. You have to figure out what kind of environment you’d like to live in. Dormitory situations vary from one to the next. Some offer co-ed accommodations, while some stick with same-sex. Some have private bathrooms. Others use communal ones.
Organizations in Campus
If you plan on making the most of the social scene with organizations within the school, you’ll also need to study the clubs, teams, and Greek life of the campuses you’re considering. Knowing about their numbers, habits, and records might make or break your desire to attend there.
Some schools have strong ties with religious organizations and communities. Whether you think that appeals to you or not should be part of your decision-making process, too.
Diversity and Inclusivity
Diversity is one of those buzzwords that a lot of institutions throw around, but whether that’s true, you’ll have to delve deeper. This is something that’s becoming increasingly important in today’s world.
Availability of Financial Aid
Higher education can be expensive. You must consider the financial options available to you when you’re looking for the right university. Will you be able to pay for everything without financial aid? If not, what are your choices?
Choosing a university is a commitment you’ll have to stick with, not only in the four or so years you’ll be spending there but well after you’ve left. Make the best decision by weighing each item here. Good luck!