Applying to your top list of universities is one step, and choosing where to go once you are accepted is another matter. Your choice can have a lasting impact on your academic career, social development, and professional prospects. It is a highly individualized choice that takes many factors into account. Think about the following factors as you make your final decision about which university to attend.
1. Financial Aid Packages
Each school can offer a different financial aid package based on need and merit. Your high school career and personal background can make you a prime candidate for scholarships. The schools may also suggest varying student loans and grant options. Fill out your FAFSA early for the most comprehensive and accurate financial aid options.
2. Academic Programs
Each school has academic programs of varying quality and concentrations. For example, a Communications major program at one school could focus on public health communication while another school could concentrate on journalism and media studies. Read professor reviews and consider how the programs could influence your professional career.
3. On-Campus Housing Options
Most schools require freshmen students to live on campus for their first year. On-campus housing options vary in structures, from co-ed high-rise buildings to special interest houses. You can also consider whether you want a school with a Greek sorority and fraternity system. If you want to stay on campus throughout your university years, then you should choose a campus that specifically accommodates all students in dorms.
4. Dining Halls
Evaluate how your dietary needs and preferences can be accommodated in the dining halls. You will be eating your meals here with new friends and during important final exams, so it is important to have a good source of consistent nutrition. You may want to have multiple cafeterias or cafe options, or you might like to have access to a shared kitchen.
5. Team and Club Sports
You can still participate in sports if you aren’t in the starting lineup of the football team. Consider how you might walk on to athletic teams or participate in the community environment of team sports. A D-3 university might be a better option if you want to join the team after getting in on academic merit.
6. Social Scene
Consider whether the social scene can meet your expectations and allow you to stay focused on academic success. A known party school might seem overwhelming, or it could be an exciting change. Remember that your university years are a careful balance of academic rigor and social exploration.
7. Support Services
Access to various support services is vital for crunch moments. Students with disabilities should set up meetings with the disability accommodations office and talk to current or graduated students with similar challenges. Healthcare services and tutoring options can help all students get through stressful situations.
8. Study Abroad Programs
Look beyond each university campus and investigate their study abroad options. Schools often have partnerships overseas, and you should be aware of your opportunities. If spending a semester in Europe is your dream, you should verify that it is included in study abroad options.
9. Surrounding Town
University locations vary drastically, from urban settings to rural hamlets. Consider whether you want access to city amenities and events, or whether you want to be in a focused university town bubble. The surrounding area can also impact your housing options for your later years at university.
10. Transportation Options
Some schools restrict access to personal vehicles and parking for underclassmen. Try out the public transportation system and school shuttles when you visit.
11. Proximity to Friends and Family
Think about whether you need to be near an existing support system or if it is time for you to cope on your own. Each situation is different and there are pros and cons to being close to home.
12. Internship and Research Opportunities
Evaluate local internship and research options at each school. Look up where previous students interned and determine whether their work led to post-graduation employment.
Wherever you go to school, show up as your authentic self and dedicate your studies to building a meaningful future.