The U.S. Census Bureau says that 18 million students have enrolled in college for the 2007-2008 school year. This marks a healthy increase from twenty years ago when only 12.8 million students were registered for college. Thinking about joining the swelling ranks of college students? Before blowing hundreds of dollars on application fees, reflect first on your career goals, your personality type, and your learning style. Next, compile a list of criteria to help you discover colleges that serve your unique needs. Here are five of the most important factors to consider when evaluating colleges, from small vocational schools to large public universities.
1. Quality of Life
The meaning of “quality of life” varies from student to student. While some people might seek out colleges with lovely campuses and delicious food, others may prioritize institutions with renowned research facilities, gay-friendly communities, or high safety ratings. Even prominent journals and magazines evaluate colleges’ quality of life differently. For instance, U.S. News relies on graduation rates, retention percentages, and peer assessment ratings, while The Princeton Review uses students’ feedback on dorm quality, food service, and emotional well-being. Colleges offering high quality of life include:
2. Academic Reputation
Schools with highly touted overall academic reputations include:
When it comes to a school’s academic position, consider the both the overall prestige of the college and the quality of your chosen department. For example, if you plan to study entrepreneurship during your undergrad years, check out USC or the University of Arizona’s top-ranked programs. On the other hand, if you wish to earn a Master’s in Fine Arts (MFA) degree in creative writing, you might choose the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop or the University of Houston’s creative writing program.
New technology has made the world a smaller place. America’s globalizing economy makes it increasingly important for college students to learn to relate to people who speak different languages, hold dissimilar value systems, and practice varied customs. Some of the most diverse colleges are:
It is a commonly thought that the high tuition costs of liberal arts colleges plunge students into life-long debt. This is simply not true. According to U.S. News, many colleges with hefty price tags offer generous financial aid packages to their students. Here are some of the most charitable liberal-arts colleges:
Even though many private liberal arts colleges give out impressive funding, public universities frequently present more affordable options for budget-conscious students. The least expensive public universities include:
When searching for the right area to attend college, ask yourself the following questions:
When you have finally narrowed your college choices down to a small pool, it’s time to personally visit your top prospects. Speaking with faculty members and current students face-to-face can help you make a well-informed final selection.
Publish date: June 29, 2008