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When looking at colleges, many students take programs, scholarships, and extracurricular activities into consideration. What I discovered my senior year of high school was that it is also important to notice red flags and take them into consideration.

Red flags are warnings that could affect your education or your college experience in a negative manner. If your program is highly ranked, would you still be able to participate happily if the atmosphere on campus wasn’t a positive one? These are the red flags I noticed at some potential colleges that made me reconsider my options.


I decided my senior of high school that Greek life was something I was interested in being involved with during my college undergrad years. One school I especially liked often mentioned its active Greek life in several of its brochures.

I found a sorority I thought would be a good fit and looked into the school’s Greek life system even more. A quick investigation soon revealed that several of its fraternities and sororities had been shut down or put under probation due to incidents with hazing. All within the past few years.

Some quick conversations with students revealed underage drinking that often included sexual harassment, hazing that hadn’t been caught by the school, and the exclusion of non-Greek students on campus during events. While Greek life wasn’t a must for me, I did not want to go to a school were hazing was treated as something normal and getting caught required several complaints to administration.


As a minority student, I knew I wouldn’t mind attending a predominantly white institution (PWI). The current college I attend is a PWI and I couldn’t be any happier! But I did know that I wanted to attend a place where I would be treated equally.

Schools that were reported to be intolerant or had a low minority retention rate were crossed out. I talked to students through email and asked them how the college administration handled certain situations.

I also discovered that it’s important to visit the school first before making a final judgment. There was a small school that I knew I could attend on a full ride. As I went to pick up some papers one of the workers asked my name. As I repeated my “foreign” name she had a laughing fit and called in her other coworkers so they could have a nice laugh also. This school was immediately crossed off.

LGBTQIA+ Attitudes

One thing I greatly admire about my school is its willingness to accommodate LGBTQIA+ students. There are programs that educate students and promote tolerance. My schools willingness to try to educate itself and even build a gender neutral bathroom was something I admired.

Although I identify as straight, seeing how far my current school was willing to to welcome its LGBTQIA+ was something I admire. Although there are few instances were students make homophobic comments, my college tries its best to help students and ask input from LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Classes and Prerequisites

I found out that with some colleges class availability can be an issue when enrolling for classes. Not a big problem for someone who only wants to sign up for an elective, but a major issue if the class is a prerequisite or a required class for your major.

This is usually more of a problem at smaller colleges. One person I met who goes to a college with less than 3,000 people suffered this problem. A class she needed to graduate required several prerequisites. Once she completed those she discovered that a low demand for the class meant it wouldn’t be available for another year.

It was her senior year and she had completed every single college requirement except that one course. She was forced to wait a year until the class was available in order to graduate. If you’re planning on attending a small school this may be something to consider if you’re worried about finances.


It is extremely importance to make sure that the school you are planning to attend is accredited. A school’s accreditation impacts its students ability to receive federal student aid, apply for scholarships, and finding employment after graduation.

People often assume that non-accredited institutions are only limited to online-only programs. In reality there are physical institutions that are not accredited or lose accreditation. Be on the look out for that type of information.

Students at accredited institutions often receive more aid and can apply for more scholarships. It also allows future employers to know that you’re education met certain standards that allows you to be qualified in your field.

Searching for colleges is one of the most exciting things during your junior and senior year of high school. Thanks to the excitement students often only consider a colleges good qualities and don’t taking into consideration other traits. By looking for red flags you’re taking a school’s academic program and environment into consideration. Thus, allowing you to make the best college choice that fits your needs.

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the author

Erendira Jimenez is a second year student at Wichita State University. She's majoring in International Studies and is part of her school's honors college. Like all college students she has a love for pizza, Netflix, and college freebies.

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