Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.

It is fair to say that those pursuing a college education would like to go to a “good college,” but what defines a good fit for each individual? Our society is so focused on rankings and statistics that many students find themselves unsatisfied when they pick their university solely on the basis of which is held in the highest regard. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it leaves students blind to other factors that would have affected their decision otherwise. If you’re still in the process of researching potential colleges or are stuck in the limbo phase awaiting notice, here are a couple things you should keep in mind.

Academic and Social Atmospheres

It is easy to choose the academically superior school, but actually attending and experiencing everything it has to offer for four years is a whole different story. You may have already researched the “reputations” of your schools. You may already have your pre-conceived notions, but should note that these reputations are usually taken to the extreme and should be taken with a grain of salt. It is merely an exaggerated focus on one aspect of the university.

It would hold more weight for you to, if possible, contact a couple current students of schools you’re genuinely considering and ask them about the academic and social atmosphere there, both on-campus and off-campus. You may want to ask how active the student body is in terms of school pride and how visible student organizations are on campus. Being able to get involved in student organizations or events within your interests not only creates networking opportunities, but it also allows you to let loose and enjoy your undergraduate career a bit more wholeheartedly. We’re all students, but at some point, we all need some time away from academics and need to unwind.

Coming from a student of one of an academically demanding universities, there will be times when you’ll want to recharge in order to keep your sanity, whether that’s through watching Netflix, going on excursions with friends or doing absolutely nothing for hours on end. When choosing a school, you should keep in mind that the more spirited and active the student body, the more likely it is that you’ll find your fit among the variety and plethora of offered activities and feel at home.

Availability of On-Campus Resources

Other factors to note are the types and availability of on-campus resources. We all come from a variety of backgrounds and we all learn at different paces and in different styles. If I could go back and look into one more factor before making a final decision, it would have to be this one. Whether it’s tutoring, health services, cultural spaces, or the career center, even if you don’t think you’ll ever need these resources, it is nice to have them available in case you do need to make a visit.

Being fortunate enough to attend a university that offers all of these resources, I can attest to their effectiveness and to how central they are to the success of many of the students on this campus. If there’s anything I’ve learned since coming to college, it’s that navigating the college experience is already hard enough, so do not be afraid to reach out when you need help, whether that be academically, professionally, or mentally. Having access to these resources can only help you succeed.

Housing Market

As a college student, you’ll constantly need to be financially conscious of your decisions. You’ll most likely live in the dorms during your first year and then move either into on-campus or off-campus apartments. With this in mind, I would suggest looking into how much rent in the surrounding neighborhoods is and decide whether or not that would be feasible with your financial resources come the time you’ll be moving off-campus. Tuition is, in my opinion, already unnecessarily overpriced, let alone on-campus housing through the dorms.

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the author

Kelly is a sophomore studying Microbial Biology and Business Administration at the superCALifragilisticexpialidocious University of California, Berkeley. Much of her free time involves Miranda Sings impressions, puns, the woods, concerts, and Netflix. Also food. Always food. Food is bae.

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