If you have been accepted to more than one college, the start of the new year means it won’t be long before you’ll need to make your final college decision. Which college should you choose, and how do you know you’re making the right decision? For some people, the decision is easy — the campus just feels right, or their major program is only offered there. For others, the decision requires a balance of logic and feeling, of educated guessing and intuition, and that can be scary. We’ve pulled together a list of some factors that you might not think are important at first, but can actually end up being significant to making a great choice for you.
Look at The Retention Rate
A student’s first considerations likely include cost, majors offered and size of the school. Retention rate is another critical variable, because this is a strong indicator of how successful an institution’s students are as they pursue their education. Your ability to finish your education will strongly correlate with how well you’ll be able to pay off any college loans. According to a study published by the Brookings Institute, the students who are struggling the most with paying off their college loans are the ones who weren’t able to finish school.
Consider Your School’s Distance from Home
This is another factor that is rarely considered until it’s time to pack for school. How easily will you be able to get home, and how often will you want to go home? This might not be something you find out until you start school, unless you already know for a fact that you get homesick easily, or you must go home often for things like doctor appointments. This consideration is especially important if you do not have a car — if traveling by car would be easiest, is there anyone you could ride with, or would your parents have to pick you up? And if you will need to travel by air, are there any big airports near you? Flights out of smaller airports can be more expensive since the flights are smaller, and it can be harder to get a convenient flight where you need to go.
Find Out About Housing Options for Upperclassmen
At many colleges and universities, students are required to live in dormitories on the campus during their first year. At other schools, there are no on-campus housing options at all. On- and off-campus options can run the gamut, and they can be easier or harder to find, depending on the school’s size and location. Have you thought to look around at listings to find the best spots for students? Is the school close enough to your home that you can commute? These are things you want to consider well in advance of making your final college decision, since housing in the later years of college, if not in your first year, will be a big concern.
Determine How School Size Will Impact Your Experience
The size of the school will contribute to a lot more than just the class sizes. A smaller school might have fewer options for extracurricular activities and classes, but it could also have a more tight-knit community and more unique traditions than a bigger school. School size will have a big impact on what daily life looks like, from the administrative office to the social scene outside of school.
It’s important to remember that where you choose to go to college will not be the only factor that determines what you’re able to attain in your future career. According to WRAL News, college choice has less of a factor on earning potential than grades, internship experience and global study experiences. So take your decision seriously, but remember that college is what you make of it. What factor are you most concerned with in choosing your college? What other factors might influence your college experience?