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What Should I Look for in a College/University?

Choosing a college to attend is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life. It will have a profound, lasting effect on your personal and professional life. Many students select their university with a vague and limited set of criteria. Although this may not preclude you from success, such an important decision definitely merits greater thought and consideration to truly find your fit. Some broad and general criteria to consider include academic quality, size, location, environment, cost, and safety. But with so many programs and institutions to consider, here are some specific categories that I hope will get you thinking and asking questions about which college truly fits you best.

1) Academics

While academics as a whole may seem like a huge topic, let’s break it down.

First of all, you’ll need to make sure that the college provides the program you’re interested in. The different variations of the program as well as how it translates to other programs all need to be considered, too.

Picture yourself as a prospective biology student. Your school likely offers many different bio-related programs, such as biology, biochemistry, life sciences, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, and much more. With all these choices, it’s important to find the right one for you. Here are some factors to consider.

  1. What subjects are you interested in? What are some related programs?

  2. Admission requirements

  3. Future education (e.g. law school, med school, masters, ect.)

  4. What services are provided?

  5. Is research done as a part of your studies?

  6. Do you want co-op as a part of your studies?

  7. Can you study abroad on international exchanges?

All of these above factors should be taken into account.

2) Location

University is probably the first time you are living away from home. With it being such a big step in your life, here are some crucial factors to consider in making your decision.

  1. Big city or smaller town? Both have their own pros and cons to look into

  2. Do you prefer living at home for college?

  3. How far do you want to be from home?

  4. Are there any friends or relatives that go to the same college?

  5. Is this location affordable for you? Factor in food, rent, etc.

  6. Climate: warm, sunny, cold, or snowy? Depends on your preferences.

  7. What's the atmosphere like off-campus?

All of these factors will determine how you feel about where you’re going to live, as well as how comfortable you’ll be taking this big step in your life.

3) Overall Campus Vibe

The campus will be where you spend most of your time, from lectures and study sessions to grabbing a bite, events, and rec facilities. Narrow down the list by seeing if the college has what you’re looking for.

  1. Big, spread campus or concentrated, small campus?

  2. Busy, urban campus or quiet campus?

  3. Defined boundaries or melting in with the city?

  4. Older buildings and vibe or shiny, modern vibe?

  5. Smaller communities or huge student population?

  6. Amenities - residence halls, restaurants, services, recreational activities.

4) Finances

Moving into this stage of your life, it is now time to consider finances. You now have to pay tuition, and many if not all of these dollars are coming from you now. Do you have the required budget? Here are some things to consider.

  1. How much is the tuition?

  2. Is your family going to be helping you out?

  3. What are some scholarships you could get?

  4. Other expenses (e.g. rent, food, textbooks)

  5. Is there any financial aid available to you?

  6. Is it possible to work part-time on campus?

5) Career Success

Ultimately, a university prepares you for your future career. Whether it is continuing education or entering the workforce, you should know how your degree translates into future careers.

  1. What are the counseling services available?

  2. Resume and interview services?

  3. How can the university help you prepare for graduate studies? (Law, medicine, ect.)

  4. Does the institution offer co-op opportunities?

We hope that you ask yourself these questions and find the perfect match. University is a huge life decision, and we hope you find the school that lets you succeed!


“Factors to Consider When Choosing a College.”, 2019,

‌Huss, Michael James. “Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a College.”,

“Nine Factors to Consider When Choosing a University.” Undergraduate Programs, 7 Oct. 2021,

“Top 10 Factors for Choosing a College.” Concordia College, Accessed 17 Apr. 2022.

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