Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

November 16, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

When looking around for universities, you should take a variety of things into account, including location, cost, size, academic standing, campus security, available majors, and other personal considerations. In this article, we’ll go over crucial factors to consider when choosing a college. You’ll want to delve deeper and ask more specific questions as you whittle down your selection of colleges to determine whether they’ll be a suitable fit for you.

What are the factors to consider when choosing a college?

What are the factors to consider when choosing a college? Below are some important tips to consider.

Admission rate

Applying to institutions with greater or lower acceptance rates may be a good idea depending on your high school grades and SAT scores. You have a better chance of being accepted at institutions with lower admission rates if you excelled in every aspect of your academic career.

Female student talking to a male interviewer.

Conversely, if your academic record isn’t stellar, be sure to apply to several schools with a higher admission rate, just in case.

Graduation rate

Getting accepted into college is undoubtedly less significant than graduating. What good is admission in the first place if you don’t graduate?

Review the percentage of students who finish the entire program while choosing an institution.

Freshman retention rate

The freshman retention rate, which describes the proportion of students who return for their sophomore year, is another indicator to take into account. A high retention percentage suggests that first-year students at that school were generally happy with their experience. Additionally, it shows that few students failed their freshman year, which is significant for freshmen trying to acclimate to college life.

Graduate/Professional school options

Find out what proportion of four-year college graduates continue their education if you have hopes of attending a graduate or professional school, such as law school or medical school. This indicator can help you determine whether the institution adequately prepares students for further study as well as the likelihood that you will complete your academic objectives.

Jobs after graduation

If you’re concerned about finding work once you graduate from college, think about the proportion of students who land jobs right away. Some institutions offer top-notch job placement services that help students find employment after graduation and make the transition from being students to employees.


With their respective curricula, different schools offer various programs. Other universities have a more flexible curriculum that gives students a lot more freedom to choose the courses they want to take.

Course availability

Checking the course availability is one of the factors to consider when choosing a college. You may frequently notice advertisements for institutions that offer evening and weekend classes. You might need to pick a school that offers those possibilities based on your schedule.

Group of students attending an online class.

These institutions enable those who must hold full-time jobs to continue their education. A graduate degree can also be obtained by enrolling in the evening, weekend, or online courses.

Quality of professors

Does the college employ academics with advanced degrees or do they all seem to be inexperienced? Studying under highly educated academics with both teaching expertise and practical skills will ensure that you are receiving the best education possible.

Research opportunities abroad

Only a small percentage of students have the opportunity to study abroad. If you wish to study abroad, think about how many programs are available at a certain university and which nations are covered by the programs. Additionally, find out if the university offers support to students who travel for their studies. By allowing students to transfer credits, some schools make it incredibly simple for them to study abroad.


One of the most important factors in choosing a college is to examine the institution’s accreditation. Your undergraduate studies may need to be finished at a recognized institution to be admitted to graduate or professional school. A student cannot receive financial aid if they attend an unaccredited institution.

Accreditation is practically a given for reputable universities and schools. But this isn’t usually the case for online and smaller colleges. Even if an online school has accreditation, you should check to see if graduate and professional institutions that interest you accept the accreditation.

Study program

While student living factors such as campus size and job accessibility are important, one of the factors to consider when choosing a college is the course of study. A business school probably won’t provide all the classes you require to study English. While certain universities are renowned for their engineering programs, other universities have some of the best nursing programs in the nation.

Additionally, some institutions offer a conventional course of study in which students go to class, do assignments, and pass exams.

Campus housing

For some young adults, student life might be just as essential as academics when choosing a college because there are additional benefits to attending. Student life typically begins and concludes in dorm rooms. Living with other students is necessary if you desire a busy student life. If you’re looking for a school with a vibrant student life, look for one with a high number of on-campus residents.

If you truly want to live on campus, check to see if there are any available rooms in the dorms. If you want to attend college in a big city, “on-campus” living may have a broader definition.

Greek life involvement

The social life of students is greatly influenced by sororities and fraternities. Some people believe that living in the appropriate housing is crucial to succeeding as a college student. If this describes you, be careful not to restrict your possibilities by applying to a school with a low Greek life involvement rate.


Location, most certainly, is one of the factors to consider when choosing a college. Use the metric of miles or driving distance to select the school that is the greatest fit for you if you require one that is close to your house. Additionally, you must determine whether the hustle of a large city is what you desire or if a rural or small-town setting would suit you better. You should search for schools on the west coast or in the warm southern states if you detest long winters.

Aerial view of Yale University during day time.

If finding a job after graduation is an issue, be sure the institution is close to possible companies. For instance, a school in New York City would probably be a better choice for you if you wanted to pursue a career in investment than one in Kansas. Look for internship options in the neighborhood if you intend to spend the summer near your school.

Campus size

Consider the campus’ geographic size in addition to its geographic location. Do you want to attend a school where you might have to travel between buildings and take buses or trains to go to some of your classes? Or do you want a compact campus with all the buildings near together? These are crucial lifestyle concerns that could have a big impact on how you live as a student every day.

Meal plans

Do the schools have budget-friendly lunch plans? Do you need the meal plans? Students may open accounts for debit cards at universities in big cities like George Washington University. The debit cards can then be used in dining facilities on campus and eateries all across Washington, D.C. The school mandates that all students have meal plans, and food purchased on campus with the card are exempt from sales tax.

Extracurricular activities

Think about the number and range of extracurricular activities offered by a school. These activities would include clubs related to a particular subject of study, leisure activities like sports, volunteer organizations, and religious groups. You are more likely to find a group that is ideal for you if an institution offers more groups.

Safety statistics

Safety Statistics are among one the important factors to consider when choosing a college. Statistics on safety are a crucial indicator of campus life. How well are students safeguarded from crime? What is the ratio of the number of students enrolled to the number of college police officers? Do you observe signs of campus security when you visit a school?

Party life

Let’s be honest. Some students attend college primarily to party to earn a degree afterward. If attending a party school is important to you, check out The Princeton Review rankings, where Ohio University is now ranked as the largest party school in the United States. Universities like Arizona State University, Georgia University, and the University of Wisconsin in Madison are all well-known for their parties.

Alumni network

You should think about the size of a school’s alumni association if you wish to maintain relationships with your fellow graduates wherever life takes you. It will be comforting to know that you have connections wherever you go if life takes you across the globe.

Additionally, having a strong alumni network can assist you in landing a job. Having a strong alumni network is crucial when looking for employment in several fantastic areas, like banking. Graduates with a strong alumni network can also get recommendations on where to live or eat when they move to a new city, as well as assistance finding a rental apartment in a new city.


Demographic information, including gender, color, and religion, is always published by schools. Finding the school that would be the perfect fit for you won’t take much research if you have a certain taste.


Do the institutions provide transportation both within the campus and to off-campus destinations like bookstores, housing, and stores? Take into account the number of students who drive on campus, together with the price and accessibility of on-campus parking. Many students experience a great deal of frustration because parking may be a significant hassle at some institutions. Some colleges forbid first-year students from bringing their cars onto the campus at all without prior approval.


If it’s important to you to attend a school that upholds your religious views, carefully research potential schools to find out how involved they are with the spirituality of their students. Some colleges impose honor codes that, among other things, may mandate that students refrain from drinking or attending church regularly or ask them to sign agreements relating to their religion or spirituality.

Teachers and administrators who share many of the same religious values will work in these schools. Even if you are not religious, you might not feel comfortable signing a morality pledge or abiding by an honor code, but you might be able to fit in at a school with strong spiritual ties.

What are the financial factors to consider when choosing a college?

What are the financial factors to consider when choosing a college? When trying to determine which school is going to be the greatest fit for you, one of the most obvious considerations to take into account is your financial situation. This is true even if you are already aware of all the crucial aspects to look for in a college in terms of academics and student life.


Cost is certainly an important metric for you unless you currently have a sizable college savings pool. Others need to be able to pay for college without taking out student loans, while some prospective students may consider attending more expensive institutions. When estimating the overall expenditures of attending a school, don’t forget to take housing and board into account as well as tuition.

Financial Aid Requirements

Student aid is more likely to be distributed at some institutions than others. If you are aware that you will require financial aid for college, search for institutions that can accommodate such students.

financial aid as one of the factors to consider when choosing a college

If you anticipate needing financial assistance, carefully review the types of aid programs offered to enrolled students. Information on the percentage of students who receive financial help and the typical amount of aid students receive may also be found on the school’s website. In addition, take into account how many students receive grants and scholarships for college and look at scholarship opportunities for colleges to determine eligibility.

Working Students

Many college students work while they are enrolled, but some institutions support work more than others due to their higher proportion of working students. For students in need of financial assistance, many schools also provide work-study opportunities; the jobs offered by the schools can supplement loans and grants.

For instance, Berry College in Northwest Georgia is renowned for having a high percentage of students who are employed and provides students with access to hundreds of different jobs. On the other hand, some schools put priority on education over students who must work outside the classroom.

Fees for applications

Particularly if you intend to apply to numerous schools, application fees can add up quickly. If your ability to pay for an application is a concern, you might want to reconsider applying to a school with a high application fee, particularly if your chances of being accepted and attending the school are slim.

When should I start searching for a college?

Not sure of the ideal time to start looking for a college? It’s not just you. “When should I start searching for a college?” is a common question among high school students. Should you start your hunt in your junior year or wait until your senior year? Or should you begin looking even earlier?

Even though there isn’t a single solution that works for all students, experts highly advise against waiting until senior year. Senior year is overloaded with obligations, and there simply isn’t enough time to conduct a thorough college search in that short amount of time.

Young woman using a laptop in a desk.

The earliest possible moment is the ideal one to start your college search.

If you are a junior and have not yet begun the search, do so right now. If you’re a sophomore, think about conducting some preliminary research and beginning the ACT/SAT so you can retake it multiple times to raise your score. It’s never too early to start looking for a college, not even in your freshman year.

Even if you only look into a select few of the 3,000 colleges (and nobody is advising you to look into all of them), it can still take a significant amount of time.

Even though you are already familiar with some factors to consider when choosing a college, you really shouldn’t shortchange the amount of time that this will take. It can be very difficult to squeeze this search into a small window of time. Additionally, you are more likely to ignore a few schools that would have been a good fit for you or miss early deadlines.

Finding the ideal college can be challenging, but you can make the process easier by concentrating on crucial objectives for your academic career. Pick the metrics that are most crucial to you depending on your needs rather than examining each one for every college on your list. You’ll need to put some time and effort into it, but once you’ve chosen the right college for you, you’ll know it.

It is time to get started on your college applications. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college. Contact us today for more information on our services

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