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Sunshine1245_1190's avatar

Can you give me an outline of what I need to research about a college?

Asked by Sunshine1245_1190 (144points) April 11th, 2011

I am beginning to research colleges I would like to go to. I have never researched info about colleges before. Could you please provide me with an outline I can use to learn about each college I am interested in.

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10 Answers

Mariah's avatar

No, I can’t, not really.
Reason being, this is a very personal decision and you need to research the things that are important to you.
Do you know what you want to major in, or have a general idea? You’ll want to make sure the colleges offer what you’re interested in, as well as a few close seconds, because changing majors is very common.
How big of a factor is cost? That’s something you’ll want to know, as well as what kinds of scholarships are available to students.
What other things are important to you in your future college? Size? Location? Extracurriculars? Dorm accomodations?

Seaofclouds's avatar

In addition to the things @Mariah mentioned, you may also want to look at the weather of the area. College in Alaska or Florida could be awesome, but if you can’t stand the really cold or hot of those areas, you may want to avoid them.

You’ll want to look at the admissions requirements as well. That way you know what you need to do to be prepared when you go to apply. Some colleges have more strict requirements than others.

muppetish's avatar

Here are the things that I took into consideration (both for undergraduate and graduate study):

- Do you want to attend a school that operates on the quarter or semester system? (Trust me: this is a BIG deal. I could not have survived my undergraduate study on a semester system. I would have gone crazy. The majority of my friends from outside my university, attend semester schools and think quarters zip by too quickly. It’s a personal preference.)

- How much does tuition cost per quarter/semester? Will you require financial aid to cover the fees? Are you comfortable taking student loans to help cover the cost?

- Do you want to attend a private institution or a public institution?

- What major do you want to study? Is there are a specific emphasis that you are interested in? Certain universities specialize in areas of study (mine is known for its Engineering and Hotel and Hospitality Management programs). This is a good place to narrow down the list. If you are undecided about the major, look for schools that offer a variety of areas that interest you (are you a math person? science? humanities?)

- Do you want an institution that has a diverse student body?

- Do you want to commute to school or dorm on campus? What is the cost of living in the area?

- What extracurricular programs does the school offer? (Athletics, clubs, social events.)

- Location, location, location. I attend a school in southern California. It is relatively large (in terms of student body and space of the campus), hilly (goddamn those treks across campus), and comes equipped with a ranch. It’s a commute school and not for everyone. I know many people who specifically chose schools in dense urban areas, others who chose ones that had lush campus grounds, etc.

I’m sure that I am forgetting a million things. I may check back in with additional comments.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Forbes Magazine did their review of USA Colleges and Universities three years ago but still relevant.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I recommend starting by reading Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope. Then, have a conversation with your parents about how college is going to be financed. Research all the schools in your area. See if they have a program that sounds interesting to you. (It will be less expensive to stay in-state than going out-of-state. Also look at schools where your parents or grandparents went to school; often there can be scholarships for legacies. If you have excellent grades, test scores and school involvement, then don’t be scared off by higher priced schools. Often the aid packages make them affordable. The goal for undergrad is to go to the best school that you can for as little money as possible.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Do you care about class sizes? If so, make sure to check that out.

What program are you looking for? Make sure they offer what you want as a major.

And everything @muppetish said.

bolwerk's avatar

If you have no idea what you want to do (you haven’t said), I suggest just going to a community college for a year or two and getting the BS courses you’ll have to take no matter what out of the way the cheapest way possible. Maybe, in a core class, you’ll find a subject that interests you. This is a great idea to do anyway, if you’re on a budget as it helps avoid some of the debt load you deal with.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@bolwerk That’s a good idea, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Different colleges require different core classes, and they don’t always transfer. Most people who do that end up doing at least another year at the 4-year institution to make up for all the credits that didn’t transfer as anything other than electives. It’s much better to do that if you know what college you’ll be transferring, and what the requirements are for the program you’ll be partaking in when you get there. Otherwise, you might be flushing a lot of tuition down the drain – and sure, 2K a year is much better than 15K a year, but it’s still money.

bolwerk's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs: it generally works pretty well within a given state, particularly between the community colleges and public university system, and even in your worst-case scenario the only real problem classes are credits that don’t transfer at all – at least, ones that don’t transfer even though the grade is good or because you have too many credits from the CC. If the ones that weren’t meant as cores become elective credits when they transfer, I don’t see what harm was done unless you really wanted to use those electives as electives (if you don’t know what you want to do anyway, I don’t think that’s a problem).

Even acting cautiously, handling the first year at CC allows for some really obvious things to get killed off on the cheap: 12cr of foreign language, at least 3cr-4cr of math up to calculus,* 3cr of Introduction to Lit or English lit 101 (or whatever), at least 3cr of obligatory writing class, 3cr of introductory science classes and the attendant lab course, the obligatory U.S. and world history classes (6cr+), probably some other things. These things should all transfer almost universally, and that’s almost a year of college credit right there; hell, I’d venture to guess anyone who refuses them is just milking you. Two more classes and you hit the sweet spot where most schools don’t even care if you took the SAT or not.

* this is a bit tricky; you may or may not get credit for much lower stuff when you transfer, but you’d at least get an exemption from having to retake remedial stuff later if you need it now – and you might not get credit for it wherever you go anyway, even if you take it in-house.

sweetsweetstephy's avatar

I found Collegeboard and Princeton Review to be extremely helpful when I was searching. After going through these and getting a feel for what you want, make a list of the schools that interested you and look through their websites. Request information or even email them questions. Familiarize yourself with the school and keep in mind all that is important to you: academic rigor, dorm life, school size, etc.

And don’t stress! It’ll seem overwhelming, but with a little bit of planning, you will be fine. :)

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