What Qualities Make a Great College?

During your senior year of high school is when you really start to do some serious thinking and planning regarding what college you will attend.

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Before you can even begin to think about filling out applications, you need a list of potential colleges where you want to apply. Choosing the right college can take quite a bit of work. Here are some things you should consider before you start submitting applications:

Location

Knowing where you want to continue your education is key to finding the right college for you. Some people prefer to stay close to their family and will look for a college within their city or a neighboring city. Others want to move to places they have never been before. For example, if you have a love for theater, then applying to colleges in New York may be the best option. Find a few locations that will make your college experience positive and provide you with stable ground for your career.

Cost

College can get pretty expensive when you consider everything that is involved. Some possible expenses include tuition, room and board, car expenses, traveling home and books. Many schools offer online textbooks which can help reduce some of the cost. Knowing how much you can spend is very important when looking at the overall cost of the school. If you cannot afford a car, find a school which is easily accessible through a bus system. Stay closer to home if flying home for the holidays is too expensive.

Academic Programs

What major you choose will play a huge factor in deciding which college you want to attend. Make sure that the schools where you apply offer classes in your chosen interest. If your future career also involves getting a Master’s degree, then consider a college that can move you right into the next phase of your higher education. Look at the classes that you will be required to take before starting classes focused on your major. That will give you a better understanding of your path to achieving your educational goals.

Campus Environment

College is not just about the academics. It is about learning and growing into the person you will become. That is why the learning environment is an important aspect of finding the right college for you. Look for schools which have extra-curricular activities that fit you. Does the school have a lot of weekend events that will help you get out and meet others? If you love technology, a school with online textbooks is probably up to date on technology. Does the school offer religious services that are important to you? Check out the organizations that your prospective colleges offer. For example, if you want to focus on women’s studies, see if there are organizations focused on gender and feminist interests. Whatever you are into, make sure the college you choose will give you the opportunity to participate in your areas of interest.

Size

The size of the school is very important to many future students. If you like to be surrounded by people, then a larger school may be right for you. Others that want to focus on school without the on campus experience may consider an online school. Just know that each option has advantages and disadvantages.

For example, a large school may have more extracurricular opportunities. On the other hand, an online school may work much better with your schedule.

The Campus

Not all colleges are created equal. Make sure that you visit a few of the colleges that you are interested in. Check out the room and board situation. Find out what is included. How affordable is it to live off campus? Also, see if the school has the facilities that match your interests. If you enjoy working out, does the campus offer a gym space? If protecting the environment is important to you, you may want a college that offers “green” alternative such as online textbooks and recycling. Do not compromise your standards when it comes to choosing a college.

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