When deciding which college to attend, there are so many factors that come in to play when deciding where to go, such as location, cost, and educational resources. However, there are also surprising factors that you may not realize matter as much as they do.
The ones mentioned above are indeed important, but here are a few more topics that may sway your decision when you make your list of pros and cons. For all you know, these topics could be the determining factor in which college or university you choose to attend!
- What is the rate of graduation?
Most people don’t think very far into the future. This is a huge mistake, especially when it comes to college. Although hard work and dedication play a huge role in the number of years it takes you to graduate, it also depends on the college itself. Maybe it reflects something in the financial aid process of the school, maybe it reflects a cultural dynamic there, and certainly it reflects when you can expect to enter certain subsets of the workforce.
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, “The 6-year graduation rate was 59 percent at public institutions, 66 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 23 percent at private for-profit institutions” (“Fast Facts”). This is something you want to take into account, especially if you don’t want to be stuck at a university for too long. Looking at these graduation rates can give you an idea of how many years it will take you to graduate, and hopefully help you narrow down some of your choices.
- Is AP credit accepted?
This is another often-overlooked factor, but considering it will save you a lot of time and effort in the end. For many students, the point of taking AP classes is to earn a passing score and allow you to get some college credit. If a college accepts AP credit, when you get there, you might be able to skip a few core classes if you qualify and take some more interesting ones to get you ahead in the game. Not all schools or degree tracks accept AP scores, so research your selected colleges to make sure. Although it isn’t the end of the world not to get the AP credit recognized, you might have taken these AP classes and tests to be able to get ahead in general education, as well as save some time and money. Try to find a university or college that gives you as much credit as possible!
- Is the campus diverse?
Having grown up in an extremely non-diverse campus throughout my high school life, it definitely came as a culture shock to me when I stepped foot onto my college campus the first day and saw students of several different ethnicities. So why does diversity matter when it comes to picking a college? For one, it allows you to make connections and interactions with people of different backgrounds and cultures. Moreover, it teaches open-mindedness. It can also widen your circle social, better your social interactions and bring you some exciting new friends! Going to a university with a diverse campus has allowed me to meet so many new people, and it's been amazing to interact with people I have nothing in common with. Diversity can also help you in the future, since most careers involve working with other people and being aware of their different backgrounds!
- What clubs/organizations are offered?
It is definitely important for colleges to offer interesting extracurriculars for students to participate in. Although students do come to colleges to learn from their classes, they also need to have their own lives away from direct studying. They often do this by participating in sports clubs or organizations that help them develop their passions and make friends. These extracurriculars can range from being a member of an Asian Student Union, volleyball club, debate team or dance team. Students can have the chance to do extracurriculars they never got to do in high school, since some high schools have limited options. According to a Sacramento study conducted from 2002-2007, students’ academic success has been correlated with their extracurricular activity involvement (“The Value of Extracurricular Activities Infographic,” 2014). This is even more of a reason to include clubs and organizations in your decision-making.
- How is the dorm life?
Last but not least, dorm life on campus is an important part of the college experience. Most college freshman live in dorms, and for good reason. Living in the dorms allows you to meet tons of new people and new experiences. Furthermore, it is quite convenient considering that dorms are always located near student services buildings, classes, and food. On your college visits, ask to look at the dorms and ask yourself if you could imagine living there. It will be your home for the next year or so, so take this into consideration when you are comparing different colleges.
Overall, hopefully these 5 surprising factors to consider when picking a college will help you come to a decision. Although they may not be as significant as the basic factors you should take into account, they are also an important part of students’ lives and can help make college a wonderful college experience. Make your list of pros and cons for each college and think carefully about which one would best suit your needs. Good luck and happy choosing!