Here are some questions to help you evaluate factors you should consider when choosing colleges to which you might apply. Your first task is to assign priorities to each of these factors. While it is unlikely that any school will meet all of your needs, assigning priorities to these factors will help you find a number of colleges where you are most likely to be happy. As you research various colleges and perhaps visit some college campuses, keep notes and/or record your impressions of the school. You are very likely to spend 4 years at a particular college; doing some research and making informed choices only makes sense.

Your Interests:

  1. What fields and subjects interest you the most? If you are unsure about your academic interests, it might be best to look for colleges that offer a wide range of programs.
    2. Why do you really want to go to college? What do you expect to gain from the experience?
    3. Based on your academic history, what do you feel are your strengths?


  1. Do you prefer a school in a large city, a college town close to a city, or a rural setting far from a major city?
    2. Do you prefer a school close to home where you will be able to visit home easily for a weekend or Thanksgiving break?
    3. Perhaps a school where it will be easy and financially feasible for your family to visit you?


  1. Does the college offer the program(s) in which you are interested?
    2. Is the college known for a particular program?
    3. What are the school’s policies regarding course requirements, selecting a major, double majoring, and cross registering at neighboring schools?
    4. What are the strengths or weaknesses of the program(s) in which you are interested?
    5. What is the student-to-teacher ratio? How many students are there in a typical class?
    6. Are most classes taught by full-time professors, or are many taught by graduate students?
    7. How accessible are the college’s professors? Do undergraduates have the opportunity to assist professors in their research?
    8. Is there a core curriculum? Are there distribution requirements? Are decisions on curriculum left largely up to the student?
    9. Will the academic work challenge me? Will it be too demanding and not allow time for extracurricular activities and socializing?
    10. What grade average and standardized test scores will I need to be considered a strong applicant?
    11. Does the school accept Advanced Placement credit? Is there a minimum score needed?
    12. Is there an honors program available at the school? Who is eligible to participate?
    13. Does the college offer/encourage study abroad or at another U.S. campus?
    14. What percentage of freshmen return for the sophomore year?
    15. Do most of the graduates go on to graduate school immediately upon graduation? What is the rate of acceptance at medical, law, or business schools?
    16. How many graduates go right into the marketplace? Is there a career services office that assists students with finding summer internships and jobs after graduation? Which firms recruit on campus?
    17. Are there opportunities for hands-on work experiences while students are in college? Do any of these pay a salary or stipend?

Size and Student Population:
Smaller schools may be more nurturing and supportive whereas larger schools may offer greater diversity, both academically and socially. Some small colleges belong to consortia that enable them to offer greater resources while maintaining their supportive atmospheres.

  1. Is the college small (fewer than 1000 students), medium-size, or large (more than 15,000)? Does enrollment matter to you? Does the college have graduate students?
    2. Is the college ethnically/racially/culturally diverse?
    3. Does the college attract students from all over the United States and the world or are the majority of students from the immediate region?
    4. What are the students like? Will I fit in? Will I be able to make friends?
    5. What kinds of student organizations are active on campus (political groups, college newspaper, student government, volunteer/mentoring groups, etc.)?
    6. What is the male/female ratio?
    7. What kind of religious life exists on campus?
    8. Can the school meet my special needs (dietary/religious/ medical)?
    9. Do students primarily live on campus, off-campus, or do most students commute from home?
    10. What is social life on campus like? How important are fraternities and sororities? Varsity sports?

Financial Factors:

  1. How much will it cost to attend this school (including tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel to and from campus, and spending money)?
    2. Will I qualify for financial aid? Is the amount of financial aid offered negotiable? Does the college offer academic merit scholarships (as opposed to colleges that offer scholarships solely based on the family’s “Financial Need”)?
    3. Will I go on to graduate school? Will this affect how much I can spend on my undergraduate education?


  1. How are the college’s libraries and computer facilities?
    2. Does the college/university provide technology?
    3. Are there adequate sports and recreational facilities (e.g., a swimming pool, athletic fields for non-varsity players, music practice rooms)?
    4. Is a wide variety of intercollegiate and intramural sports programs available? What facilities and programs are available for women?

Living Conditions/ Safety:

  1. Is campus housing readily available? Is on-campus housing guaranteed for all four years?
    2. Are the dorms coed? Are the bathrooms? Are single sex dorms available?
    3. Are alternative housing arrangements available?
    4. How safe is the campus? How does the college ensure safety on campus?
    5. How accessible is the college to public transportation?


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