When it comes to choosing a college, there are many common factors that parents and students consider. These include such considerations as location, how prestigious the University is and of course the cost of attending. With thousands of colleges and Universities to choose from just in the US alone, however, there are a number of other often overlooked factors to consider. An education is one of the most expensive purchases most individuals will make, so it’s important to weigh a number of other factor than merely just the most obvious ones. Future success is not always determined by simply getting a “good” education, but rather on getting the right education. Here are 5 more nuanced things to consider when choosing the right college for you.
1. Focus of the College or University
Too often students choose which University they want to attend and then choose the type of degree they want. Most colleges and Universities offer a wide range of degrees ranging from liberal arts and media degrees to science, math and business degrees. While most schools offer something of a general education in a given area that will stand a student in good stead in a number of professions, some students thrive in an environment where the entire student body is focused on a more narrow field. Rather than simply getting a performing arts degree from a large, public University, they might do better at a smaller school that specializes in performing arts.
Some of the most popular campuses are large, sprawling affairs by nature of the fact that they are some of the most popular, which leads to larger attendance. While large institutions may be right for some, others may thrive on a smaller campus where there is a greater sense of community and even better engagement from faculty and staff.
3. Culture and Values
While college is certainly a time when young people are thrust into contact with people from very different backgrounds and world views – which is not always a bad thing – it can also be very overwhelming and leave a number of students feeling rootless and without a sense of stability. Spelman college in Atlanta and Howard University in Washington DC are traditionally and predominantly black colleges where young black students can explore and embrace their own heritage.
Similarly Christian Bible colleges are also very popular among families that want an education that is in keeping with their religious values. Smaller colleges like New Tribes Bible College can provide a great environment for students who want support in helping to pursue their dreams and aspirations in ways that are in keeping with their religious values.
While gauging the size of the University itself is important, it can also be important to look at the surrounding community. When a large college is located in a small town, it can make some students feel isolated because they don’t have any social opportunities with anyone other than fellow students. Most adults don’t want to live with the people they work with and this is what can happen when a large University is located in a small town. It limits the number of social opportunities there are away from fellow students.
Conversely, when a large college is located in a large city, students can become so caught up in exploring what the city has to offer that their studies can suffer for it. Sometimes, students will thrive best in an environment where they have the option of developing friendships with people that do not attend their college and to have experiences outside of campus life, without becoming overwhelmed with all the opportunities a large city has to offer. For some students, a moderately sized college in a moderately sized city or community can be the best fit.