When constructing your college list or making a final decision, the idea of “fit” is complex. There are many important, intangible, and often unseen variables that must be considered beyond how a college campus looks and feels at a glance.
Start the decision-making process by evaluating schools based on location, size, cost, and academic offerings.
But don’t stop there. Use NACAC’s College Comparison Worksheet and make sure to consider the following factors:
Average Debt upon Graduation: What will it cost for you to get an education? Will your prospective career path make it feasible to pay back your student loans?
Safety: What kinds of safety measures/systems does the college have in place? How seriously do they take student safety?
Internship Opportunities: Relevant experience in your field of interest is important, especially when you’re trying to get a job. Find out what types of internship opportunities are available to you and how the process works.
Academic Services: Even if you don’t think you’re going to need it, the support services offered on campus will tell you something about the school's commitment to student success.
Retention Efforts/Student Advising: Are there services available to help you navigate college majors and graduate on time?
Most Popular Student Events: It can be difficult to determine the climate of a college’s campus, but the most popular student events can offer clues. Is it homecoming? An Earth Day rally? A big college football game?
Graduation Rates: Ask about the retention and graduation rates for students like you. If you’re a African-American female, then you should ask about the retention and graduation rates for students in your demographic. If the college can’t tell you, that’s a red flag. They should have that information at their fingertips.
Career Services: What tools does the college offer to help studens plan a career and secure employment.
Employment Rates for Graduates Like You: If you think that you are going to be a psychology major, ask about the prospects of students who graduate with a psychology degree.
Getting an early start—especially when it comes to decoding financial aid options—can help you in your college search.