If you are fortunate to have been accepted at more than one college, congratulations on your accomplishment! Now it’s time to determine which institution to attend. Listed below are 10 factors to consider that may make your decision a bit easier:
Graduate with a Degree
The single, most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to attend a college that you are comfortable and happy at and from which you will graduate with a degree. Compare the graduation and retention rates to get a sense of how students have fared.
Financial Aid Package
Each institution will offer their own, individualized financial aid award letter that will contain and explain all the aid that it is prepared to offer each student. Compare your letters and determine which institutions are providing the better offers. Keep in mind that you can always contact the institution to discuss the possibility of receiving a bigger financial aid award.
If at all possible, visit the campus and walk around, eat in the cafeteria, go to the library, visit the admissions office, sit in on a class, and if feasible, stay overnight in one of the dormitories; this can often be arranged by calling the admissions office ahead of your visit. A number of colleges offer a “pre-admit” program where admitted students have the opportunity to do all of these things, plus other activities.
Academic Programs / Majors Offered
Does the institution offer a major in the area you’d like to study? If you don’t know what you want to major in, does the institution provide you with sufficient options to choose from?
Geographic Location / Environmental Setting
Determining where you want to spend the next four to six years of your life shouldn’t be overlooked. Do you want to go to college close to home? Do you want to be in an urban/city area? Does it matter if you are in a rural area; what about a suburban area? Does it matter to you if there is little to no diversity on campus and/or in the surrounding community?
What’s the campus like? Is there a lot of school spirit? Are there a variety of clubs and organizations available to choose from?
Would you prefer a small student population (less than 3,000 students), a medium population (3,000 and 6,000 students), a large population (6,000 – 15,000 students) or a very large population (15,000+ students)?
What type of support services do you have access to? Are there tutors and counselors available to provide support should you need it? Is there a career center to provide career assistance and guidance about entering the workforce postgraduation?
Institutions that participate in federal financial aid programs are required to maintain and disclose information about crime on and around their campus and report statistics on alcohol and drug violations, illegal weapons possessions and hate crimes per The Clery Act. How does the institution handle safety and security issues on its campus? Is there a system in place to communicate safety and security concerns with the student population and campus community?
Make a List
Make a “pros” and “cons” list of each institution to determine what you like and dislike about each. Weighing all of the factors may help to make your decision that much easier.
Best of luck to you!