When searching and comparing colleges, many students get lost in the process. They bury themselves in dollar amounts, percentages, and statistics. They focus so much on what a particular college will do for their future, that they forget to consider what is best for them during college. In doing so, the search for the right college only takes into consideration a portion of what will make them happy and successful.
As you compare different colleges during your college search, you want to be able to choose the college that is the best fit for you. While the academic and financial aspects of a college are important, there are other factors that require just as much consideration in you research. Including some of the factors below can help you determine whether your college choice is truly the right decision for you.
- Locale. Since you won't be in class all day every day, you should consider the area around the campus. Do you want to go to college in a large city or would you prefer a more remote setting? Perhaps somewhere in between like the suburb of a mid-sized city? Don't make the mistake of only considering life on campus. Consider the setting of the area in the 10- to 15-mile radius of the college. Also remember that transitioning from one type of setting to another may take some getting used to. Think about whether you will be comfortable in a different environment or if you would prefer a familiar pace and surroundings.
- Hobbies. When you find yourself with free time, it is important that you have an outlet. Having the opportunity to indulge in your favorite hobbies or trying some new ones can enhance your college experience. Think about how you'd like to spend your free time and find out if the college or local community offers activities, clubs, or organizations that you can join. Be sure that you can enjoy your free time on or near campus.
- Climate. If you reside in a state that is normally warm and humid most of the year, it can be quite an adjustment to endure cold, dry weather while walking to and from your classes. If weather is important to you, then research the average low and high temperatures for the months you will be in school.
- Terrain. If a certain backdrop appeals to you and allows you to enjoy your favorite pastimes, whether it is surfing or skiing, you may want to focus your college search to those locations.
- Campus Social Life. College is a place for social development, and you should examine the social aspect of each school. Pay attention to what students do when not in class. Is the school a "suitcase school" where everyone goes home every weekend? How important are fraternities or sororities to the social scene? It is important that you feel comfortable with the impression given off by the student body.
When you are researching different colleges, be sure to consider all the factors that can affect your college experience. Ask yourself what type of college experience you want to have and how the college that you are considering will help you achieve your goals. Once you have collected all the information you can, then you'll be able to decide which college best suits you.