Chances are you have spent months (if not years) building a shortlist of colleges, narrowing down the ones that best fit your higher education goals. However, having a shortlist is only the first step – evaluating the colleges on the list thoroughly is what will help you make your final pick.
Chances are that there is no one specific college that will tick all of your boxes; you may even find that a college is almost perfect, except for one or two hurdles. This is why evaluating and comparing colleges is critical – it helps you figure out what your priorities are, and lets you rank the colleges in order of preference.
Here is a list of factors that the CollegeEnroll team believes are important to analyze while evaluating each and every college on your shortlist:
Does the college offer the major you want?
Naturally, the major you want to pursue will be the biggest influencing factor on your pick of college. Choosing the right major is important to your future and will greatly determine what kind of career you can pursue.
Some colleges may offer exactly the kind of major you want, while others may be offering variations of that major – this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing since one of these previously unknown majors could be just the thing you’re looking for. Also, do check what courses are offered by each college under your major of choice.
What is the overall cost of attending?
Your overall cost of attending college will mostly be determined by the cost of tuition. However, tuition is still only part of the overall cost – understanding and calculating the remainder of costs could end up playing a bigger role in your decision than you’d think.
For starters, where is the college located? How much can you expect to pay for on-campus residence or rent if living off-campus? How easy or difficult will it be to get a job on or off campus to support yourself financially? Take these into consideration when calculating the overall cost of attending any college.
Any financial aid on offer?
Many colleges offer scholarships and financial aid packages that you can apply for. If the college has been impressed by your application and is keen for you to attend, they may even offer you some sort of financial assistance without you having to apply. This will be extremely important when weighing up offer letters from various colleges.
What networking opportunities are available?
Along with a degree, the networking opportunities you can tap into are one of the key reasons why a college education is invaluable. Many colleges have a reputation for being networking hotspots in certain fields like management, marketing, journalism, finance, medicine, and even art. The right degree from the right college can really open up doors for you further in your career.
Are any campus tours offered?
A campus tour is one of the best ways for any college to put their best foot forward. If the colleges on your shortlist offer campus tours, then sign up for and attend as many of them as you can. Reading about campus life is one thing, but there is no substitute for getting to experience it first-hand and talking to some of the existing students.
Can you get in touch with alumni?
Colleges usually treat their alumni organizations as their brand ambassadors. Many colleges will help you get in touch with an alumnus, preferably someone who has majored in the same degree as you wish to, so you have a fair idea of what to expect during and after college life. If the opportunity to connect with alumni is possible, snap it up without hesitation.
Choosing the right college can be a difficult task, and possibly even overwhelming. But by breaking down each college and evaluating them based on the above criteria, you will get a much better picture of what each college has to offer you. Remember to rank each college based on your research and the right answer will reveal itself.
- Evaluating colleges on your shortlist helps you figure out what your priorities are and which colleges meet them best.
- There is no one college that will meet all your expectations. Always remain flexible about certain factors in order to accommodate the more important ones.
- Look beyond the financial aspect of attending college during the evaluation process – other factors can also have just as important an impact on your career prospects.