Searching for a college that fits what you’re looking for academically and socially can be a bit of a tedious process. Every school has unique characteristics that make up its academic environment, but at most colleges, this includes various hands-on experiential learning opportunities. If quality and abundant hands-on learning is important to you, here are some ways you can make your search for colleges with these types of opportunities a bit easier.
Note your interests
One thing to do before researching colleges is finding out what you most want to get involved in. This can include a whole range of opportunities that may spark your interest depending on your intended major or career field. Perhaps you want to be an Art major; you might look for schools that allow you to express your creativity through various projects and showcases throughout the academic year. If you’re looking forward to a career in health care, you could choose a university that’s known for their published research or engaging labs. Whatever it may be, make sure you first have a good idea of your goals and aspirations so you know what opportunities you’re searching for when it comes to choosing a college.
Related: College Options for Students With Multiple Major Interests
Get to know your potential options
Really getting to know a school can take some time. Whether you surf through their website, chat with admission counselors, read reviews, or something else, devoting time to better understand a college’s academic environment can only benefit you. Attending information sessions is especially helpful, as they can inform you of facts about the school you may not already know. Oftentimes, a school’s academic reputation can also give you a hint as to what departments may have the most funding for up-to-date equipment and resources to provide you with exciting and unique learning experiences.
You can also check out what schools advertise on public platforms; this can give you an idea of the programs they’re recruiting students for, which are often the programs that offer the richest experiences. For example, if the college you’re looking at is well known for their Health Care programs or draws special attention to them (some popular majors being Nursing, Psychology, Kinesiology, etc.), then you can expect those programs to have various engaging learning opportunities for you. Health Care in particular usually requires hands-on experience for graduation, but you’ll find plenty of it with other programs of study too, such as Theater, Fashion Design, and more.
Meet with faculty and alumni
Another important step in your research is talking to professors, advisors, and other campus faculty members. Professors and advisors know how courses are structured and the learning and participation that’ll be required in them. Connect with a professor or academic advisor in your department of interest to schedule a time to discuss what you can expect and ask any questions you may have. Certain professors implement interactive activities that involve the whole class, while others may have you work independently on projects and other hands-on assignments. Let them know what your desired level of hands-on learning is, and they can help determine if their school is what you’re looking for.
Along with college faculty, alumni can be of great assistance too. Having graduated from the school you’re researching, they can go into further detail concerning the opportunities they were provided. Ask current college employees if there are any alumni looking to connect with prospective students, or you can take the first step and connect with them through professional platforms such as LinkedIn or Handshake.
Related: How to Network With Your College's Alumni on LinkedIn
Many universities have distinctive experiential opportunities that allow you to advance your learning inside and outside the classroom. Take time to find the right school for you and advantage of the experiences you’re offered when you get there. Hands-on experiences in college are not only enjoyable to partake in, but they can also shape your academic and professional journey for the better.
Ready to find a college with unique opportunities for students? Check out the schools on this list of Colleges With Innovative Academic Programs.