Choosing a College

About this article
Even before you start filling out applications, you need to find the college that fits you. This article provides information on critiquing colleges and making sure they fit your needs.
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There are several characteristics you should consider when deciding which colleges to apply to:

  1. Academic Programs
  2. Campus Life
  3. Cost
  4. Diversity
  5. Location
  6. Retention and Graduation Rates
  7. Size of Student Body

When considering these factors, it's necessary to order them according to your personal preferences. Some students may find the size of the student body more important than diversity while other students may feel the opposite way. Prioritizing may help you gather your feelings about each campus better.

Size of the Student Body

The size of the student body affects you in many ways - from type of majors offered to the amount of personal attention each student receives. Naturally, a school with 7,000 or fewer students will have smaller class sizes, meaning the possibility to have more personal interaction with the professor. However, this same school may have a small library or a limited amount of extracurricular possibilities.

If you choose a school with 25,000 students or more, these features will generally be just the opposite. Keep in mind that whatever college you choose, look into the number of students in your particular field of interest. For example, a school with 25,000 students may only have 100 of those students in your discipline. Therefore, you may be able to have access to smaller classes when you begin working on your major-required coursework.

Location

Location is also important because you will be spending several years in the area. Be sure to choose a college with surroundings that are comfortable to you. Are friends and family important to you? Then you may want to check out local colleges or colleges in nearby cities. Would you rather be in a completely different environment, so you can have new experiences? Then perhaps getting out of your 'comfort zone' and going to a college further away in another city or even another state would be a good pick. When you visit a campus, make notes about everything you liked or disliked about the area. This way you can gauge which location best meets your needs.

Academic Programs

The available academic programs at a college are the subjects and programs that you will be able to choose from when you apply. If you have already chosen a field or career, research what schools have programs that involve that discipline. You could do some research by going online to Web sites such as U.S. News, www.usnews.com. You could talk to a guidance counselor, an admissions representative or to friends or family.

If you have no idea what type of discipline you want to pursue, you should probably consider an institution that offers many different types of programs. You may also want to find a college that will allow you to enter 'undecided,' meaning you have not declared a major. By declaring undecided, you have time to choose your major when you enter college.

Campus Life

Campus life is worth thinking about. Your won't spend all of your time studying, so when you have some time off what are you going to do with it? Learn what you can about the campus and community. What activities are available your college and community offer? What type of sports or extracurricular activities could you participate in? Is there an ethnic or religious group you can take part in? Are there sororities and fraternities? What kind of restaurants are around campus?

Cost

For many people, cost is a big factor in choosing a college or university. Before you stress about costs, remember that most colleges offer financial aid to qualifying students. There are also other financial aid options that are not affiliated with the school. For financial aid options at the school, visit with a financial aid advisor. An advisor can help you find information on scholarships, grants, loans and work-study programs.

The cost of tuition is not the only financial concern to keep in mind. You may also want to check the cost of living in the area because you may want to live off campus after your first few years. There are also other living and academic expenses to consider.

Diversity

Diversity is another feature of campus life that colleges or universities try to maintain. Try to find a college or university that embraces students of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. By attending a school with well-balanced diversity, you will have the opportunity to learn things outside of the classroom and leave college with an enlightened perspective.

Retention and Graduation Rates

Retention and graduation rates are helpful in measuring a school's quality and the satisfaction of its students. Find out the percentage of students who return after their first year and the percentage of those students who remain to graduate. Good rates of retention and graduation can be indicators that responsible academic, financial and social support systems exist for students. It can also allow you to gauge how long it might take to complete your degree.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Liberal Studies
      • BA: Psychology
      • BA: Psychology - General
      • BS: Computer Science
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
      • AA: Liberal Arts
      • AA: Business Administration
      • AA: Information Technology
      • AA: Cybersecurity
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Johns Hopkins University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Liberal Arts
      • Master of Arts in Science Writing
      • Master of Science in Applied Economics
      • Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems
      • Master of Science in Bioinformatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
      • Master of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
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    Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
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      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Georgetown University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Finance
      • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
      • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate
  • Online Programs Available
    5. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
      • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
      • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
      • Masters in Interdisciplinary Secondary Transition Services
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    Bachelor's
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
      • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
      • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education - Character Education
      • Doctor of Education - Curriculum & Instruction
      • Doctor of Education - Higher Education
      • Ph.D. in Communication
      • Ph.D. in Education - Character Education
      • Ph.D. in Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Communication
      • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
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      • Master of Arts in Journalism
      • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism
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    Certificate
      • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program - Autism Certificate
      • M.Ed. in K-12 Special Education - Autism Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    8. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
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      • M.S. - Public Relations
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
      • BS - Creative Writing for Entertainment (Campus)
      • BS - Film (Campus)
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    Certificate
      • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Teaching and Learning
      • Master of Project Management
      • Master of Finance
      • Master of Professional Accounting
      • Master - Information Technology Management
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    Bachelor's
      • BS - Communication
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      • BS - Project Management
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      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Human Resource Management
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  • Campus and Online Programs
    10. Louisiana State University Shreveport

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration with a General Business Specialization
      • Master of Business Administration - Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Finance Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Human Resource Management Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - Hospitality and Casino Management Concentration
      • Master of Business Administration - International Business Concentration

Featured Schools

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice
  • AA: Liberal Arts

What is your highest level of education completed?

Johns Hopkins University

  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Master of Liberal Arts
  • Master of Arts in Science Writing

What is your highest level of education?

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
  • AASBA in Business
  • Medical Office Administration Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Georgetown University

  • Master of Science in Finance
  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management
  • Master of Professional Studies in Real Estate

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • DBA - Management
  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Education - Character Education
  • Master of Arts in Communication
  • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program - Autism Certificate

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • Cert - Instructional Design and Technology

What is your highest level of education?