Students research colleges and go to interviews. They take tours and visit with admission people on or off campus. And, they ask all sorts of questions—all in the pursuit of the right college for them. But are they really looking for the right information?
Here is a guide to what–and what is not—important to know about a college when you are making a decision about where to apply and eventually where to matriculate.
- My major – Often students ask if a college has the right major or program for them. The problem here is students will likely change jobs and even careers many times in their work lifetime. Often, too, students get their first job in a tangential or unrelated field to their major. What students should look for is broad and various offerings at a college so they will be exposed to many of their interests.
- A party school – Bigger colleges and schools with recognized athletic programs usually have more opportunities for partying. But, is the school party atmosphere as important as your personal choice? If you want to party, you will. If not, you won’t.
- The faculty – Students think they are getting a quality education if faculty have a name, have published, or are known for their research. But, this type of faculty may have a couple of deficits. One is they may be good researchers or grant writers but may not be good teachers. The other is they are often not available to their students. It might be better to find out if the faculty have teaching awards and accessibility.
- Financially feasible – Students should find out what the average debt is of graduating alums from the college they are thinking about. College should be affordable, and students should be able to pay off their college loans.
- This brings us to the final point, which is where do the school’s graduates find work – Any college should have data about where their students find jobs and how many of them are employed directly after school. First, alums are great connections to the work world for their fellow graduates so you want alumni that have found good jobs. Also, the rate of employment tells you something about how well this college will prepare you for your future. You want to make sure your degree is worth something.