When applying and preparing to head off to college, your family and guidance counselors do their best to prepare and help you find the perfect place to get your higher education; but, there are many more things to consider that you may not even know about. Are there things that you want out of your “dream college” that even you did not know you wanted until you got there? Often, students start college and realize that some things that they wanted in a school were actually not available at all schools. This is why so many students TRANSFER after their 1st year or even 1st semester.
To help you figure out what you want in your college experience, here are 3 things in a college that you didn’t even know you wanted:
1. You Want Accreditation!
What is accreditation? “Accreditation, technically a voluntary process, is a means by which colleges demonstrate to each other, and sometimes to employers and licensing agencies, that their credits and degrees meet minimum standards” (Wikipedia). This means that if your school is accredited you can transfer with ease (if needed) because other schools will accept those credits since they are similar to those that meet their own standards.
Employers want to know if your school was accredited when you graduated as well. This will give them the information they need to decide if your education meets their standard requirements for skills and basic understanding of the position.
Graduate schools also want to know if your previous school was accredited. I hope this helps show you how important this is for your education and you do not even realize it because most High School students do not know what accreditation is. When preparing for college you should know that even good schools and programs (such as your major) are not always accredited. Before deciding on a college you should research or visit different universities to be sure they are accredited (including what program you are interested in!).
2. You Want To Be Part of a Community!
When looking for your dream college, you may only focus on the well known larger schools you’ve heard about on your favorite TV show. Although there is nothing wrong with going to a larger university, there are some things larger colleges cannot give you that you want: such as a community feel.
Larger colleges provide sororities and fraternities that allow you to be with a group a of people who will know you and build relationships with you, but there are still hundreds of people in your class and on campus you will never know and likewise they will never know you. You should also remember, there is normally a entry fee to join a social group on campus (as well as other fees) that may add to the difficulty of joining a group. If you plan on attending a large college, I would definitely recommend you find out all you can about the groups that are available on campus and get plugged in to one that best meets your needs and wants! This will help you have that community feel that every person wants!
Obviously it is not a necessity to have everyone know your name when you go to college, but wouldn’t you say you would at least a group of people like your professor to know your name? Larger schools offer a lot, but smaller colleges naturally give you the ability to live and learn in a community. Smaller universities naturally have smaller class sizes – this gives you the opportunity to have a better connection with your professor and gain a more personal education.
Whatever college you attend, you want people to know who you are outside of the classroom- this will add quality to your daily life on campus because you will always have a familiar and friendly face to sit with, have lunch, or study with. You want to be more than a number, a major, a grade, a filled seat, or a raised hand.
3. You Want EASY Parking!
How would you feel if you had to pay for parking every time you went to class? When looking for colleges remember: YOU WANT EASY PARKING. Why wouldn’t you want easy parking?
Who wants to ride their bike or walk long distances to class everyday (especially in the rain)? This goes for commuters too! If you are interested in living off campus, just imagine how awful it would be to find spare change everyday while you are already running late to class!
The average larger college will charge anywhere between $100- $1000 for you to park your car on campus in a decently located parking lot. It is also important to remember that if you are mainly looking at larger colleges right now, you need to find out what the requirements are for you to have a car on campus. Many universities do not allow freshman or even students with less than 60+ credit hours to have a car on campus.
I hope this information helps give you a better idea of other things you want in a college, but maybe you did not realize you did! Talk to college students that are attending school now and see what are some things they wish they had looked for in a college before applying or enrolling! Best of luck in your higher education!