If you’ve spoken with a college counselor, teacher, parent, or just about anybody else handing out college decision advice, you’ve likely had a few factors drilled into your head: How much does it cost? Does it have the programs I want? Does this school offer the academic rigor that I desire? What’s the student-faculty ratio? To be sure, all these considerations are essential when choosing a college. However, during this investigation, several other factors often fall by the wayside. These things may have been drilled into your head too, but I hear them discussed much less often than other aspects. So, here are four of the more underrated considerations when making your final college decision.
It’s not “picky” for factors such as proximity to home, access to a major city, and climate to impact your college decision. These often seemingly insignificant details will matter as much in your daily life as the academic or athletic prowess of your chosen university, if not more. It’s vital to know yourself when discriminating between colleges. If you dearly want to stay close to your family, then it may be wise to opt for an in-state option. If you want to be in a place bustling with activity, consider more urban campuses. If you’re miserable in the cold, choose a place with a warmer climate.
2. Campus feel
It’s an unfortunately common misconception that feelings are entirely unreliable. While emotion should not be the sole apparatus by which your college selection is made, it certainly shouldn’t be ignored—this is why campus visits are important to the college search process. Often intuition is merely a heuristic for rational judgment; it’s thinking in a hurry. If something feels off in a college’s atmosphere, don’t hesitate to probe further into this feeling and try to discover from where this discomfort arises. Likewise, if a campus feels particularly like home, this shouldn’t be neglected either. Remember, while the university will be your site of learning for the next four years, it will also be your site for living. Be reasonable, but don’t sacrifice comfort for the sake of reason.
The dining hall, alongside your trusty meal swipes, will become your best friend in college. Given that food is the fuel that allows your brain to function, that it’s absolutely essential for nurturing emotional stability, and is otherwise delightful in and of itself, do not subject yourself to a lousy dining hall. If you have the chance to sample the food at a university, or even just ask a student how it is, take this chance. It may seem petty, but really: do you want to spend the next four years forcing down food that you hate but is required for sustenance? No, you do not.
For many students, the college decision is daunting because it seems so irreversible. However, this is often not the case. Of course, it’s lovely to get it right on your first try, but if you hate the college that you chose, you aren’t stuck there. It’s far easier to transfer universities than most students assume, and transfer policies might be an important factor to bear in mind throughout your decision-making process. Researching this can alleviate some of the gravity of the decision at hand and relieve some stress if you’re torn between colleges.
Although these factors may not be the most immediately important ones in your decision, they are all certainly worth bearing in mind throughout the decision process. Remember to know yourself and your priorities, and, most importantly, that every university is only what you make of it. There is a great experience to be had anywhere if only you pursue it. Good luck!
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