Deciding on a college is one of the most important things you’ll ever do, not a task to take lightly. The outcome of this decision could greatly influence your course of life. It should be more than choosing a college that meets your academic needs. There are many things to consider academically, your future career will depend on how well prepared you are, but there are other factors to figure in.
Whether making this decision for yourself or your child, make a well informed one. This requires research and field work. At least one visit to the college is recommended. During your research, conversations, and visits, there are red flags to look out for.
Beginning With the Core
Red flag #1: “This college doesn’t fit me.”
Make sure the college adequately provides your needs academically. This should be number one on your checklist. If a college falls short of this, it’s not the college for you. Give great consideration to your precise career plans. Choose a college where you can accomplish all you need in education. If you haven’t determined what career you want, narrow it down to a specific area. For example, I am not yet sure what career path I’ll take. I know I want it to be in the field of sociology and/or psychology. Therefore, I’m majoring in sociology, and minoring in psychology. So, I know I am receiving what I need in order to be prepared.
Red flag #2: “I can’t live like that.”
Be sure you have a choice of living arrangements feasible for you. If your only option is living with 4-6 other students, are you going to be okay with the compromise of privacy? Such a living arrangement might not allow an adequate amount of quiet time for studying, etc.
You might want to think about sharing an apartment with only one or two others, or perhaps one all to yourself, if affordable. If the school is near family or friends, you might opt for living with them.
You’ve got to Take a Break Sometimes.
Red flag #3: “I won’t have enough to do in my spare time.”
You’ll want enough activities to enjoy when breaking from school work. If you are athletic, you may desire an on-campus track, tennis court, etc. If the college doesn’t offer these, perhaps you would be satisfied going off campus for what the community offers.
Red flag #4: “This is not what I want in a community.”
Even if the college seems perfect, the community might not be. Find out what kind of community surrounds the college. Is it a safe community? Is the culture totally different than what you’re accustomed to? Will you have quality health care facilities? Does the community offer entertainment and activities the college lacks? These are just a few questions you might want answered. This is where you’ll live for a while. You need to be happy with it.
Having a Social Life
Red flag #5: “My social life won’t be interesting.”
If a social life is important, make sure there’s opportunity for one that suits you. If you enjoy book clubs, arts and crafts groups, etc., having these available is a plus. Perhaps staying connected to your religious group or church is important. Find out if the group or church is in the area, if you desire to physically attend services and events.
Parents looking for a college for your son/daughter; put a lot of thought into seeing things through his/her eyes. Their overall happiness is the most important aspect, and should be top priority. Talk to him/her, in depth, about his/her wants, needs, concerns, and desires for “college life”, and future goals. After all, he/she is the one who’ll benefit most from the right choice made, or suffer most from the wrong one.
I wish you well in your quest.