We suggest that you weigh this perspective as about 15% of your decision.
Campus Size: Campus sizes can range drastically from school to school, from under 1000 students (the size of your high school or smaller), to over 35,000 students (the size of a small city!). Do you want a small school? A medium school? A large school?
- Small schools typically have under around 2,500 undergraduates attending. Smaller colleges tend to have smaller class sizes. You may have fewer lecture courses and more courses that emphasize class participation and hands-on learning and far more interaction with the faculty. Professors will usually teach the classes as opposed to teaching assistants. Smaller colleges may also offer fewer academic programs and may also have fewer activities and extracurricular programs to choose from. Smaller colleges may have a strong academic advising system and a strong sense of community and connection on campus.
- Medium sized schools range in size from about 2,500 to 10,000 students and will usually offer a happy medium between small and large schools, depending on which end of the spectrum you’re at.
- Large schools typically have over 10,000 students. Larger schools will tend to have larger classes and a wider variety of academic programs and extracurricular programs to choose from. They may also have well-funded athletic programs, big sporting events, and state-of-the-art research facilities. Classes may be taught by professors, but some will be taught by teaching assistants. It’s hard to know what size school you may thrive on, so you need to visit at least one school in each category to see what attracts you and where you can picture yourself.
Geographical Location: There are over 4,000 colleges in the
. You need to think about where in the United States you want to be for the next four years of your life, and maybe even more considering many college graduates settle in the area they went to college in. Seriously weigh the pros and cons of attending college close by home, far away, or somewhere in between. Can you get there by car or is it a train ride or a plane ride away? Consider whether proximity to home is worth the risk of attending a school that may not be the best fit for you. Think about optimum distance: somewhere that’s close enough so it’s easy to get home for holidays or for a weekend here and there. Keep in mind, it can get expensive to purchase an airline ticket every time you want or need to go home. United States
Once you decide on the general location you want to be in, you’ll need to then think about whether you want to be in an urban, suburban, or rural area?
- Rural campuses are located in the country, near farms or wilderness areas and are usually in a small town. Rural campuses can provide access to outdoor learning opportunities, such as agriculture or environmental science. Most students live on campus on a rural campus, which tends to increase a college’s sense of community.
- Suburban campuses are in small cities, large towns, or residential areas near cities. They can combine some of the best features of both urban and rural areas, offering access to nearby cities and outdoor activities.
- Urban campuses are located in cities. Some are spread throughout a city, others are self-contained within the city. They usually attract culturally diverse students and there are plenty of options for entertainment on and off campus.
Campus Religious Affiliation: There are many colleges out there that have specific religious affiliations. If religion is very important to you, consider the colleges that are specific to the religious community you are from. If you are looking at schools that have a religious affiliation but you are not a religious person or are not even a member of that religion, make sure you do your research before attending. Visit the school and make sure that you feel comfortable there. Is the community welcoming? Will they judge you for not being part of their religion? You need to make sure that you will be in an environment you will be very comfortable in. Religious schools may also have academic requirements not affiliated with non-religious schools, so make sure to do your research.
Chemistry with Campus: Does the college feel like home? As cheesy at it may sound, do not discount the feeling you get when you step foot on the college campus. Usually you will feel some kind of chemistry when you are on your visits. We’ve had students go to visit their number 1 school and decide to knock it off of their list because of the way it made them feel, even though they weren’t sure exactly how to articulate that. We’ve also had students be dragged by their parents to visit a random school they’ve never heard of it and then the school becomes their number one because they just fell in love with how they felt when they were on campus. Follow your gut feeling and the instinct you get when you visit these colleges.
Any additional tips to share? Leave your comments!
About Smart Track™ Toolkit: The toolkit is a web based service that assists families with everything from admissions and test prep, to student athletics and financial aid. Our intuitive software and on-demand workshops are key components to making sure students find their top choice colleges, and families can afford to send them there.
About the author:
Laura Guarino is the Student Services Coordinator with the College Resource Center, LLC. Laura has a degree in Human Development from and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in School Guidance Counseling. She is also enrolled in a certificate program in College Admissions Counseling. Laura is at the forefront of the college admissions process for the families of The Smart Track™ Toolkit. Boston College
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