8 Things To Consider When Choosing a College or University
by Jessica Teper on Aug 22, 2023
Choosing the right college or university is definitely no walk in the park. There are so many things to take into account, like the institution's reputation, culture, location, and more.
Students and their parents may also have different priorities when choosing a college, making the decision-making process even more challenging. For example, you may want your child to go to a local school so they can stay at home, but they want to have a more traditional dorm-life experience.
Ultimately, you and your student need to take the time to carefully weigh all the options and make an informed decision that will set the student up for success in the future.
Here are eight key factors to think about when choosing a college or university.
1. Career Goals, Interests, and Values
A career aptitude test for high school students (like our Custom Career Guide!) can help students identify their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values so they can find post-secondary institutions and programs that match their skills and goals. It can also save them time by narrowing down their choices and helping them make a more informed decision about where to apply and attend.
2. Academic Programs and Majors
Once you know what type of program/school your student wants to attend, create a shortlist of top contenders and assess their overall quality and reputation. Look for graduation rates, job placement rates, and success stories from alums to see if the program is well-respected.
You can also attend open houses to chat with current students and faculty to gauge how challenging the classes are and the overall student experience. Lastly, you can check out publications like US News, Times Higher Education, and Macleans to see how how your college compares to other institutions.
3. Campus Culture and Environment
Check out the school’s website, take a peek at their social media, and read up on what students say about their experience to get a sense of the campus vibe. You can also see if they offer extracurricular activities or clubs your student would be interested in.
If diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to you, look into the school's policies and statements on diversity and inclusion. You can also read about the experiences of diverse students at the college and check out the student body and faculty demographics. Lastly, remember that some colleges might claim to be all about diversity and inclusion, but actions speak louder than words. Look into their initiatives and see if they're walking the walk.
4. Location and Accessibility
Think about how close your school would be to home or family. Being nearby can help when your kid feels homesick or needs support. You should also consider the surrounding area and the weather. For example, if your child loves the hustle and bustle of big city life but hates winter, the University of Winnipeg might not be for them. Lastly, make a note of the transportation options and whether they'll have easy access to amenities like grocery stores, doctors’ offices, or shopping malls.
5. Support Services and Resources
The best schools provide support services to help students thrive academically and emotionally. Look for institutions that offer academic support, tutoring, and counseling services. Access to the latest technology and research facilities can also help students get the most out of their education. And don't forget about career services and internships. Ensure they have opportunities and guidance to help them launch their careers post-graduation.
6. Alumni Network and Career Placement
What are program alums doing now? Successful alums can connect your student to other professionals and find new opportunities to grow their career. You should also check out what jobs the college offers graduates and how they help them find work.
7. Size and Class Structure
Consider the size of the school and the student-faculty ratio. Larger colleges and universities may offer more resources and opportunities, but classes could be pretty crowded. Smaller institutions may provide more personalized attention and interaction with professors but have a more limited course selection and fewer extracurricular activities. Just think about how your student likes to learn and weigh the pros and cons of each option.
Find the Perfect College or University Match with Our Custom Career Guide
Choosing the right college or university can be overwhelming. Still, before you make any decisions, your student needs to know what they want out of their career, what interests them, and what's important to them. This self-exploration will help them find the best fit for them and their long-term goals.
Luckily, our Custom Career Guide can help your kid do just that. This tool will help them understand their top personality traits and career matches so they can feel more confident that they're picking the right school to help them achieve their dreams.