Choosing A College
Below is some criteria that can be used to help students choose the kind of college or colleges that are appropriate.
• ENROLLMENT – Very Small (under 1000), Small (1,000-3,000), medium
(3,000-7,000), medium/large (7,000-10,000), large (10,000-15,000), or very
large (15,000+) college. Freshman class size. % Undergraduate students.
• RETENTION – % of freshmen that eventually graduate or return for their
• BACKGROUND – Male/female ratio. % Commuter / resident.
Geographic origin. % minority. % on financial aid.
LOCATION and SURROUNDINGS:
• LOCATION – New England, West Coast, Middle Atlantic states, the
South, a foreign country. Distance from home. Travel costs and
• SETTING – Urban/Suburban/Rural. Weather. Nearest city or
countryside. Recreational opportunities.
• FACILITIES – Library. Laboratories. Study and practice rooms. Student
center. Athletic complex. Art studios. Theater. Bookstore. Food sources.
• ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS – Proportion of study dedicated to
core requirements/major/electives. Required freshman courses.
• ACADEMIC OFFERINGS – Majors/minors offered in your areas of
interest. Breadth and depth of courses offered in your areas of interest.
Interdisciplinary courses. Strong departments.
• INDEPENDENT STUDY – Individual tutorials. Seminars. Research
• SPECIAL STUDY PROGRAMS – Field work. Internships.
Exchange programs. Semester/year abroad study. Joint degree programs.
Cooperative work/study plan. Pre-professional programs.
• STANDARDS – Accreditation. Degree requirements. Grading system.
Grading/distribution. Honor system.
• COURSE DESCRIPTION – Introductory/advanced/specialized
courses. Courses for majors/non-majors. Number of courses required for
• FACULTY – % with Ph.D. Origin of degrees earned. Original faculty
research/scholarship. Teaching course load. Expectations for
teaching/scholarship/advising and other college service. Emphasis on
undergraduate teaching and learning.
• FACULTY- STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS – Faculty-student ratio.
Advising. Accessibility for conferences, assistance. Departmental clubs,
colloquia, committees with student representatives. Class size, average.
Classes under 20 students, over 50 students. Opportunities for
discussion/student presentation/exchange of ideas.
• ACADEMIC DEMANDS – Workload. Course expectations. Type of
assignments. Academic pressure/competition.
COLLEGE TYPE and PHILOSOPHY:
• TYPE – 2/4 year. Religious/public/private/historically Black. Coed/Single-
• PURPOSE – Liberal arts. Technical/vocational institute. Conservatory.
Art /design college. Pre-professional for business, education, engineering,
fine arts. Degrees offered.
• PHILOSOPHY – Traditional/progressive. Deeply scholarly/career
• CALENDAR – Semester/trimester/quarter/module. Inter-term program.
• INTELLECTUAL VITALITY – Student attitude toward learning.
Flexibility/structure for learning. Exchange of ideas. Interest in political,
social, or world issues.
• CAREER PREPARATION – Pre-professional programs. Career
advising and information programs. % who go on to graduate school.
Graduate school and job placement.
• INSTRUCTION – What types of teaching/learning situations exist? If I
know my field of interest, what courses and faculty are available in it? Do full
professors teach undergraduates? Is there an advisor system?
CAMPUS and STUDENT LIFE:
• TYPES OF STUDENTS – Diversity and response to differences.
Typical/offbeat student. Importance of money/material possessions/social
• COMMUNITY TYPE – Homogeneous. Pluralistic. Cohesive.
Fragmented. School spirit. Controversial campus issues.
Liberal/directive/restrictive social regulations. Political climate.
• LIVING ARRANGEMENTS – Predominantly large dorms/housing
clusters/small houses. Availability of single rooms/doubles/suites/multiple
rooms. System of housing allocation/roommate selection.
Centralized/decentralized dining. Alternate dining programs. Single sex/co-
ed dorms. Housing guaranteed.
• CAMPUS ACTIVITIES – Activities related to your interests. Emphasis
on social life, fraternities or sororities, sports, or other dominant interests.
Clubs and organizations traditional/creative/competitive issue oriented.
Presence of religious, ethnic or cultural groups. Cultural opportunities on
campus or in community. Focus of social life on campus/fraternities/community/other college campus/home.
• DEADLINES – Application. Notification of decision. Deadline to reply to
offer of admission.
• APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS – Fee. Information forms.
Specific high school courses. Secondary school report. Recommendations.
Interview. Common Application supplements.
• SAT/ ACT/ SUBJECT TESTS – What are the college’s testing
• ADMISSION SELECTIVITY – % of applicants offered admission.
Average SAT/ACT scores of freshmen. % of freshmen ranked in top 10%
of high school class. Freshman class profile.
• FINANCIAL – Need blind or need considered?
COSTS and FINANCIAL AID:
• COSTS – Minimum-maximum total costs per year. Student budget for
tuition and fees/room and board/books and personal expenses/travel costs.
Admission and enrollment fees.
• FAMILY RESOURCES – What can your family pay toward college
expenses? Your earnings and savings.
• AWARDS – % of students receiving aid. Range of awards. Average award.
• FINANCIAL AID – Based on need/merit/or funds available. Loan and
job expectations. Off-campus work opportunities.
• APPLICATION – Which forms are required? Deadlines.