While researching a college, it’s imperative that you do not make rankings your foremost criterion. You need to get started early and make the official college website your Bible. Spend time in figuring out how the information you have garnered from websites/ brochures becomes significant to your academic goals and personal growth.
Here’s a short list of criteria to keep in mind while researching colleges:
1) Courses and majors offered: Invest time in looking at the different kinds of majors the college offers, core requirements aka core curriculum, the combination of majors and minors and opportunities to gain practical exposure by means of study abroad or student exchange programs.
2) Campus size and life: College is your oyster and its diversity and size are important factors as well. Large colleges usually have more resources like, academic concentrations and majors, research facilities, faculty, culture, entertainment, and so on.
Small colleges mostly specialise in liberal arts education and the overall experience is usually more intimate.
Smaller classes really do tend to weave a closer-knit community, but large classes bring with them diversity and a larger set of niche opportunities.
3) Location and weather: Though college is a great time to explore the new and unknown, a drastically different environment can be sometimes jarring. Do you want to live in a big city or somewhere little quieter?
It is also important to consider how different the weather will be from what you’re used to. For example, if you’re the kind of person who wants beaches and sunshine the year round and a cocoon of pulsating city life, UCLA or NYU would be the ideal college for you.
On the other hand, if you’re a fan of snow and a contained campus far away from the city, look at Middlebury College or even Vassar College.
4) College rankings: More important than the overall rankings would be the reputation(s) of the department(s) in which you might choose to major. You can also get an idea of the SAT/ACT range of most of the schools on the ranking list to determine whether a college/university would be a realistic choice for you based on your own scores.
5) Career prospects and alumnus: Alumni give you a glimpse into the ethos a college fosters and allows you to judge which college resonates more with you and your career goals. If a school has enthusiastic alumni, they can help students find internships or even jobs.
One way that school choice can affect a person’s career path is through career planning opportunities offered by the college.
6) Overall cost: Other factors may be more important to you personally, but in the end, cost may trump them all. Private schools are usually more expensive than public colleges and state universities.
However, private schools tend to have larger endowments and offer more grants and scholarships.
You’ve probably heard it many times before, but remember that what you’re looking for will be the best “fit” for you, and that’s an individual choice.
— Rohan Ganeriwala, Co-founder of Collegify, a college consulting firm
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