Whether you’re all about Greek life or laser-focused on academics, there are certainly things to consider when you’re making your plans for college. It’s not simply a matter of choosing a school because it’s conveniently located or the one most of your friends have chosen. The college you choose should suit your needs so that you can reach your goals and set your course for the future successfully, so it’s important to take a close look at all the things they offer before you set up camp on campus.
How big is the school? Depending on the kind of experience you want to have, the actual size of the school can make a huge difference. If you’re hoping for a more personal, one-on-one class atmosphere, you may need a smaller school, while a larger one might appeal to you if you want a more social or diverse school.
What are your goals? You need to know what your focus is, whether that means a college that offers a great sports program or is known to have a prestigious program in certain areas of expertise. The school you choose will become part of your resume; and if you’ve made the mistake of selecting a school whose credentials seem flimsy, you may not end up with the career you’re hoping for.
How does the tuition line up with your finances? Having dreams of going to a great school is all well and good; but if their tuition is out of your budget, you might need to take them off of your wish list. Check into the availability of scholarships, grants, and the financial aid they offer. You might qualify for something that you never imagined, so do your homework in advance so that you may meet any deadlines there might be.
What kinds of programs does the school offer? Some schools are a hotbed of social and cultural enrichment with enough events on the calendar to keep you so busy there’s hardly time to study. Concerts, sports games, sorority and fraternity parties, student body events, conferences…it’s head spinning to see the opportunities that college can provide, and knowing what keeps the campus humming can really play a big role in how satisfied you feel with your choice of schools.
Do they offer job connections? Earning your degree doesn’t automatically mean you’re set for the job of your dreams, but selecting a college that has a great career services center can really pave the way to landing career prospects. Check into job fairs, on-campus interviews, the number of career counselors at the school, and whether members of the faculty are still active enough in their field to connect you with internships or job opportunities.
Are the logistics logical? The location of the school can make or break your plans of attending, because distance might necessitate a move. If the school is close enough to home that you won’t have to factor in the costs of relocation and paying for housing, those are savings that should weigh heavily in your decision.
“Many students base their college choice on cost, but the choice should be based on more than that if students are to see their educational goals to completion,” says Beverly Boggs, PhD., Austin Peay State University Associate Provost for Enrollment Management. “My greatest advice would be first to find the right ‘fit.’ For many students, college is a first experience away from home for an extended period of time; so it’s extremely important for them to select a college where they feel comfortable, where they can be challenged, where they can have leadership opportunities, and where they can grow independently. Austin Peay provides all of those things while still maintaining a level of affordability that is very competitive in the state, and we have faculty and staff who reach out to students who want to excel and guide them in achieving their goals,” Boggs continues. “We’re small enough that students are known by name rather than simply being a number, but we’re large enough that students still feel as though they’re truly experiencing college life. We’re really a special school in what we offer the students who come here, and we provide them with valuable opportunities to grow both personally and academically and learn how to lead. These are life skills that they need for a successful future, and we’ve been honored to be the starting point for a great many success stories.”
As you plan your own journey through college, keep your highest priorities in mind and focus on what gets the grade when it comes to the goals you’ve set for your life. Finding a school that meets your needs will make you feel like you’re not just sliding through—but that you’re truly at the top of the class.