Factors to Be Considered When Choosing a College

From student life to financial aid and tuition, gathering this information will help you to make a truly informed decision.

Academics

  • What is the average class size?  Largest?  Smallest?  Faculty/student ratio?
  • What degrees are offered?  What are the most popular majors?  Do students have to apply for acceptance into certain majors?  What special or unique programs are offered?
  • What kind of academic advising is available?  How are advisors assigned?
  • What services are offered to students who are undecided about a major?
  • What academic support services are available?
  • How easy is it to register for necessary classes?
  • Are there required courses?  Which ones?
  • Are there study abroad programs available and what percentage of students participate in such programs?
  • Is there access to computers?  Where are the terminals located?  Is there a charge?
  • How demanding are the academics?  How many hours a week do students study?
  • Is there an honors program?  What are the necessary qualifications for entry?

Admission Requirements

  • What high school courses are required?
  • Which entrance tests are required?  What were the average scores of last year’s entering freshmen?
  • Is a certain grade point average required?
  • Will high school activities and school involvement be considered?
  • Is there an essay on the application?  Who will read it?
  • Is there an early decision or early action plan?  Is there rolling admission?
  • On what basis are applicants accepted?  What are the application deadlines?
  • Are personal interviews or letters of recommendation required?
  • What percentage of applicants are accepted?  Can admission denials be appealed?
  • When must accepted students decide whether or not they will attend?

Costs and Financial Aid

  • What is the cost for tuition? Room and board? Other fees?
  • How much did costs increase from last year to this year?
  • Is there a difference in the cost for in-state and out-of-state tuition? Are there reciprocity programs with other states?
  • Are accepted students required to place deposits for tuition and housing?  Are these refundable?
  • Are deposits required each year for returning students?
  • What percentage of students receive financial aid based on financial need?
  • What percentage of students receive financial aid based on academic ability?
  • What would be a typical financial aid package for a freshman?
  • What percentage of those who apply for financial aid receive it?
  • What are the financial aid procedures and deadlines?
  • When are financial aid recipients notified of their awards?
  • How long do they have to respond?  Is there a tuition payment plan?
  • Are campus job readily available?  Are there off-campus jobs as well?

College Characteristics

  • Where is the college located (city, suburb, small town, rural setting)?  What is the surrounding community like?  What is most distinctive about the school?
  • How far away from home is the college and what will the travel expenses be?
  • Is the college public, private, church affiliated?
  • Is it a two year or four year institution?  Are graduate programs available?
  • What is the current student enrollment?
  • What is the academic calendar (semesters, trimesters, quarters)?

Student Life

  • Where do the students come from?  What is the average age of students?  What is the male-to-female ratio?  How culturally/racially diverse is the student body?  What percentage of students come from other countries?
  • What percentage of students live on campus?  What percentage commute? What kinds of housing options are available?  Is housing guaranteed for freshmen?  Are residence halls coed or single sex?
  • What are the procedures for selecting a roommate?  What are some of the rules and regulations that govern campus and residence hall life?  How safe is the campus?
  • What kinds of student services are available (personal counseling, health services, campus ministry, international student services, academic support services, career development services)?
  • What kinds of student activities, clubs and organizations are there?  Do most students stay on campus over the weekends?
  • What percentage of students belong to sororities or fraternities?
  • What athletic programs are available?  Varsity sports?  Intramural?  Fitness activities?
  • Is the surrounding community supportive of the college?
  • Where do students hang out?  What cultural opportunities exist on-campus, off-campus?

Facilities

  • Are the older buildings in good repair?  Are there newer buildings also?
  • What is the library like?  Comfortable?  Quiet?  Up-to-date?
  • Are the grounds well kept?  Is the setting and architecture appealing?
  • How current are the science facilities?
  • Are the residence hall rooms pleasant?  Are there common areas for relaxing and socializing?  Laundry and kitchen facilities?  What are the dining halls like?  Are there a variety of meal plans?
  • What recreational facilities are available?  Fine arts?   Athletic?
  • What computer facilities are available to students?  Is there Internet hookup in the residence halls?

Outcomes

  • What percentage of last year’s freshman class returned for sophomore year?
  • What is the four year graduation rate?
  • What percentage of graduates go on to graduate school?  Medical school?  Law school?
  • What career development services and programs are available to help students plan for their futures?  Internships?  Job search help?  Alumni/ae connections?
  • Where are recent graduates employed?  What are they doing 5 year, 10 years later?
  • How do alumni/ae stay involved with the institution?
  • What is the average loan debt of a graduating student?