For those students (high school or transfer) who have applied to colleges and await decision or have offers from which to choose, it’s crunch time. National Candidates Reply Date, May 1, will be here before you know it and you the question, “where are going to college” will increase in the coming weeks. While it is increasingly common for students and parents to explain, “financial aid and ‘bottom-line’ cost will be the determining factor.” And, while I don’t want to minimize the importance of affordability, I do think it is worth noting the many other things to consider, which ensure a great college choice; these are the harder, more elusive questions that must be asked.
While each college or university will do its very best to present a persuasive case to choose their institution, I think there are some important questions to guide students and parents through the nest few weeks. These questions focus on general attributes associated with the college experience.
Ask yourself these questions about these important areas in the coming weeks to ensure you pick well.
- How will the location of the college I am considering benefit my learning?
- Do students generally stay on campus, or do they often go off campus for class trips, internships, jobs and fun? Can the college I am considering provide meaningful and plentiful examples?
- What is special about the area? What distinguishes it from other locations among my college choices?
Four great years on a campus
- Do students live on campus or off? Will this matter? What are the housing options available? Specifically, what are the housing options available for first-year students? And, does that nifty residence hall I saw on my tour (where I really want to live) cost more?
- How many student activities, fraternities and sororities are there? What are some examples of very active student groups?
- Can I achieve the necessary balance of being a great student and a great athlete (or something else) at the college I am considering? How?
- What are the chances that I will graduate in four years, not five or six? Will the college I am considering, guarantee it?
Hands-on, high-impact, valuable learning
- How many students have internships? Are they local? How much guidance will I have in finding an internship if I want one? Does the college I am consider provide any data describing why an internship is valuable?
- Will I be able to study abroad? How do I handle to additional expense of studying away from campus? What programs and services does the college I am consider provide to help me explore options and make study away a reality?
- Does the college I am considering offer any special academic experiences that might help me stand out to gradate school or employers?
Putting me at the center or it all
- Will smaller classes benefit me in the field I wish to study?
- Do faculty member in every major fieldwork one-on-one with students? What are some examples that the college I am considering can provide?
- Will faculty members make time to talk with students about their future goals and career plans? Who advises students to make sure they take all of the required courses to ensure on-time graduation?
These questions can be asked of all colleges a student is considering and are equally important (if not more so) than the “bottom-line.”
What other questions might be useful?
W. Kent Barnds a.k.a @bowtieadmission