You have been accepted to college…but to more than one! How do you decide which college is best for you? One thing to remember is that you are attending college in order to continue your education. One of the most important questions to ask is whether or not the college you choose has a good academic program.
Here are some suggestions for you to make an academic assessment among the top two or three choices you have.
1. Revisit the college campus and attend a first-year student class. Take note of the following:
• That a full time faculty member is teaching the course, not an adjunct instructor or a teaching assistant
• That the material is presented clearly and in an interesting manner
• That the emphasis in the course is on analysis and evaluation and not on rote learning.
2. Contact admissions and ask to be put in touch with a first- year student. Talk with this student to find out how valuable a learning experience he or she has had and whether or not help was readily available for any academic problems.
3. Contact either an undergraduate advisor or the department chair of the academic program you are planning to enter. Ask about curriculum, course syllabi, and faculty qualifications.
4. Self assess. Put yourself in the classes at each college. You need to think about your commitment to learning, your leaning style, and your reaction to increased competition. If you are not a committed learner, you may not want a college that has independent study programs and seminars. If you are a hands-on learner, you may not want a college with large introductory lecture courses. If you have been used to being at the top of your class, you may not enjoy a super competitive student body.
Prioritize academics for the four years you will be attending college. Yes, environment and geography are important; extracurricular activities are also a consideration. But, first and foremost, you want the best education you can get. That is the place to start when choosing between two or three colleges where you’ve earned acceptance.