Choosing a college can be daunting – you’re expected to make a very significant, life-changing decision. It may just happen that you panic and over analyze your choices, which is understandable, given that you have to decide where you will be for the next four years of your life.
Several factors will affect this decision, and the weightage for each is subjective – your choice depends on what you want from your college life and who you want to be at the end of those four years. Here is a list of seven primary factors to consider when choosing a college:
1. Courses offered and their curriculum:
- When you look for colleges, you generally do so with a core subject in mind. This core subject or specialization is known as a major. Look for colleges that not only offer your major but excel in programs that are specific to your major, as well as those courses related to it that can give you an edge when it comes to higher studies and placements.
- Go through the curricula of your preferred major(s) at different universities to understand particular courses and areas of focus within the major itself (because the same major at various institutions may have different syllabi).
- College can be expensive – you have to keep in mind several expenses: tuition fees, accommodation (on-campus housing like hostels or dorms, or off-campus apartments), and costs of living in general (discretionary expenses like eating out, impulse purchases and invariable expenses while maintaining a social circle).
- Therefore, it is essential for you to keep in mind how much your preferred college and program will cost you and whether you can finance it. This doesn’t mean that you pick the most affordable program – it means that you should explore scholarships and grants, and analyze the impact of taking student loans if necessary.
- It is important to note that private colleges are more expensive than public ones.
3. Employment Opportunities
- When you pick a program at a specific college, you must also understand what you derive out of it besides a degree – consider how employable you are as a graduate from that college.
- Examine placement statistics and internship & research opportunities at the institute. Here, the reputation of an institute also plays a role – companies and organizations hire more efficiently and pay more for graduates from prestigious universities.
- For example, a student at IIT Bombay will have more companies to apply to during campus placement season than a local private engineering college affiliated to Mumbai University, has a higher chance of getting hired, and will most probably be paid significantly more.
- It is important to consider the environment you will live in for the next four years because it will have a significant impact on your day-to-day life and overall well-being.
- You can decide whether you want to stay close to home (close enough to go home every other weekend) or if you’re okay staying far and going back only for vacations. Do you want to stay on campus in the middle of a bustling city or a rural, sprawling campus area outside the city?
5. Extracurricular activities
- Extracurricular activities form a fascinating aspect of college life. In essence, several campuses have a variety of clubs catering to different interests, from sports to debating to tech activities like robotics and aeromodelling. So it is definitely worthwhile to consider if you want to participate in such activities in college, and whether or not the institutes you’re considering can provide those opportunities.
- These extracurricular activities also help you add justification from a resume viewpoint for several soft-skills you develop over the years – if you’re involved in a team sport, you can say you’ve learned teamwork and cooperation, or ambition and focus from an individual game, or even managerial skills from an administrative position you held within the student body (such as positions of responsibility within clubs and student services)
6. Campus Life and Culture
- The people you will meet in college will hugely influence your experience of college, so campus life and campus culture should be an essential consideration.
- Specific campuses have strict curfews and regulations governing student movements after dark or late in the night, which may be a deal-breaker for you if you’re looking to party or even socialize and hang out with people at late hours.
- Colleges often host fests and events that involve students from several different colleges and streams mingling and enjoying themselves (MoodIndigo at IITB is one example, Malhar st Xavier’s is another).
- There are campuses known for political activism, while others are known to explicitly disallow any such activities or strictly regulate them – if being involved in student politics is a factor for you, it may be a good thing to check this out.
- Language and culture identities could also play a role in determining the environment on campus
7. Size of the student body
- Class sizes can have a significant impact on your learning, depending on whether you’re used to big classes or whether you need small classes and individual attention and interaction from your instructors.
- If you prefer a close-knit community where you can build relationships with your batch and professors, a smaller college may be a better fit.
- On the other hand, a larger student body often translates into a bustling events scene on campus, along with a variety of clubs catering to diverse interests. It also gives you a larger pool of people to socialize and network with.
As a college student, you’ll make new friends, learn a whole bunch of things, and hopefully have a great time while becoming who you want to be. You don’t have to agonize over picking the right fit for yourself – you need to decide what factors are more critical than others and what weightage each of them has for you and find the college that fits the bill.