Last week I talked about the importance of paying attention to a college’s personality. Campus culture is often overlooked but colleges do have unique characteristics which make them WHO they are. It is these characteristics, these personalities, that often make a campus feel like home or nothing like it.
If you missed the post, you can catch it here.
Today, I’d like to take a step back and talk about the characteristics that make a college WHAT it is.
With over 4,000 colleges in the country, students must do their research and thoroughly investigate the schools they are interested in to determine if these schools really are worthy of their interest. Here’s a few characteristics you should be paying attention to if you’re not already:
There’s a big difference between a large research university like Penn State with 37,000 undergrads and a small liberal arts college like Assumption which tops out at 2,000. You are going to stand out a lot more at a smaller school where classes are built on active discussion and debate, and where professors teach undergrads and will have time to meet with you to talk about internships and your career aspirations. At larger schools, you are more likely to be just one in the crowd. And sometimes that crowd can be to the tune of as many as 400 other students in your Introduction to Business course.
Location, location, location. It’s the buzz word in real estate and it can also be rather important in choosing colleges. Visit Brown University and there’s a lot of hustle and bustle going on around you in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. You’ll be in a concrete jungle surrounded by businesses, restaurants, and traffic not to mention thousands of other students from Johnson & Wales, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College and Rhode Island College. Visit Susquehanna University in rural Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and you’ll find a very open and green campus nestled alongside a small college town where you’ll quickly become a “regular” at the local coffee shop.
Colleges aren’t created equal and neither are majors. As a graphic design major, will you have to produce a portfolio? For nursing, will you have to complete pre-requisite courses in your freshman year before you can be admitted to the major? As a business major, do you start taking business-related courses right away? Regardless of your major, is there a required internship? Is there an involved alumni-mentoring program? How are graduates of the program doing and where have they ended up? You want to know the answers to these questions so that you know what it takes to get into your program and, more importantly, what it’s going to do for you.
Cost matters, but it matters even more when you pay attention to how strong of a candidate you are at each college. The stronger your candidacy, the more likely you are to receive a merit scholarship. This is especially true at private colleges where tuition and fees far exceed those at public schools. So, while you might have a dream school like Boston College, you need to understand that, even if you do get in, you probably won’t get much, if anything, in the way of merit money and will be stuck with a sizable bill that may not work for you and your family.
If you would like some assistance with your college search or financial aid process, contact me today for a free 60-minute consultation.