With multiple great schools offering the same major, the direction you should take isn’t always clear. Luckily, this awesome checklist is a thing.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to just pick a major and then go to a college that offers it. Not in the U.S., anyway. There are plenty of great schools here, with unique offerings that surpass mere academics, just waiting for you to find them.
Here is an essential checklist of 25 questions to ask before deciding on a college.
1.) Is the city or town that the college is located in one that you’d like living in? Or has location never been something that’s negatively affected your day-to-day life?
2.) Is dorm life, as portrayed on a school’s website or seen during your campus visit, the experience you’re looking for?
3.) Does the school have the major you want and is the program sufficient? If not, is there a similar major offered?
4.) Is it a city that will have internships in your field or will you have to travel for that experience?
5.) Is it a social campus, a commuter campus or a quiet campus? Which do you prefer, and are you willing to compromise on this point?
6.) Is the school within your price range or worth going into debt over? Are they offering you scholarships or grants if you go there?
7.) Is the campus visually pleasant and a place you’d be okay spending a good chunk of your time on?
8.) If you end up landing a great job in town before or right after graduating, would you be okay living there? Same question for if you get married or meet the love of your life.
9.) What’s the weather like there? Is there a lot of one kind of weather, like snow or rain, that you love or can’t stand?
10.) Are the professors at the school renowned in their fields? Do they have doctorate degrees or books published? Do you care?
11.) How well does the school rank academically? Are you in a field where that matters at all?
12.) Has the school had significant price hikes from year to year, making it difficult to gauge how much it’d cost to attend for four years?
13.) Are the students at the college happy? Have you researched that or asked around, perhaps by emailing current students?
14.) Does the school have any interesting electives you’d like to take, such as philosophy of film or yoga?
15.) Are there any infringing rules the school places on students even off campus, such as no drinking or smoking, that you’d inevitably rebel against or despise?
16.) Does the cost of living in the city sound reasonable for a college student? (Remember, unless you’re living off financial aid in the dorms, you’ll likely move off campus for most of your years there).
17.) Is the school a weekend trip’s distance away from home? Does it matter to you how far away from home it is?
18.) Do you have any friends or acquaintances attending the school or living in the city? Or does it sound more exciting to you to go knowing no-one?
19.) Is there a line of successful alumni from the school? Have you browsed through the college’s alumni magazine or checked the alumni section of the website?
20.) Is the school located within a reasonable day’s drive to other thriving cities? This could be a consideration if, during your junior and senior years, you can apply for internships and jobs there and be able to drive there and back within the same day for interviews.
21.) Is there a good scene for whatever niche group you’re part of, such as a Christian club on campus or a libertarian group? If not, how about in the city?
22.) Does the college have big or small classes or both? Which do you prefer or think you’d prefer?
23.) Is the campus big or small? Can you reasonably walk from class to class in a decent length of time or would it be better to bike or bus?
24.) Are the professors kind or approachable? Have you checked some professor ratings on sites like ratemyprofessors.com or asked current students?
25.) Can you imagine going to any other school more than this one? Or does this one just feel right? How important do you regard your feelings vs. logic?
Of course, you can make a good choice without this checklist but think of how much more thought-out your decision would be if you considered all these factors. You will have considered a good chunk of campus and off-campus life.
Hey, it just may become a failproof plan.
Jon Fortenbury is an Austin-based freelance writer. He’s been published all over the place, ranging from Nevada Magazine to AOL.com, and likes lemon cookie ice creame. Read his life-changing blog.
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