During the summertime rising Seniors will begin or continue to create their list of colleges to apply to. While there are some obvious factors to consider like money, majors or location, there are others that are often overlooked.
Often students who are looking to go away to school will examine locations of schools. What they sometimes overlook is the weather that is associated with those locations. Students who go away to school and end up transferring back home or close to home often cite weather as a major reason why they transfer back. It can seem exciting to go away to school on the East Coast with major cities and different ways of life, but if the weather is drastically different from what you are used to it can have a huge impact on your experience as a student.
Many students aren’t prepared for travelling to and from class or the grocery store or going out and about with snow on the ground. Even windy conditions can have students re-thinking where they attend school. Some students end up having to deal with depression as a result of going through long periods of time without seeing sunshine.
While East Coast and Mid-Western weather can be challenging, so can weather for schools in desert or dry areas. Schools located in desert conditions may have reputations for having a great social atmosphere, but being in hot weather on a consistent basis can make students become unmotivated to study or work hard. Of course you know yourself better than anyone else and if you believe that you can handle any conditions then be courageous when creating your list of colleges.
SIZE OF SCHOOL
Just as there are various sizes of high schools, there are different sizes of universities. The big difference is that the universities with the largest student bodies are enormous compared to the biggest high schools. Colleges like the University of Wisconsin or Ohio State University have student enrollments in the range between 40,000 – 50,000, meanwhile some small schools will have student bodies as low as 2,000 students. Each university reports what their average class size is which will give you a better understanding of what it’s like to attend a school with that enrollment.
The size of a university presents a lot of different factors to consider as students are creating their list of colleges. Larger schools will have more social opportunities as there will be more student organizations, a larger Greek system most likely and athletic teams that create a buzz on campus. So while a larger school can create more social activities, but is also more likely to present challenges such as larger class sizes or difficulty in getting the classes you need for your major or program. Some larger universities are aware of these challenges and make a strong attempt to address these challenges. Part of your research should be focused on finding out what different schools can do for you.
Smaller schools can provide lower class sizes and greater access to professors and staff. At the same time the opportunities for growth may be limited. Social circles may be difficult to navigate with everyone on campus knowing each other. Your list should reflect what you’re comfortable with and how you feel it will benefit you the most. In your research you will probably come across the connection that most private schools are on the smaller size, while public universities tend to be larger.
PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE
Many students have perceptions about private colleges and public ones based on the school systems of education from kindergarten to high school. The reality is that those characteristics don’t really apply at the university level. The major difference between private and public schools is funding, cost and financial resources.
Private universities receive no funding from state governments, therefore they have to raise their own money and generate funds for their school. Because of this reason, private universities spend a considerable amount of time and energy fundraising so that they can provide excellent resources. Seeking donations from Alumni, corporations and other donors often gives private schools more financial resources than public universities. The top ten fundraising schools every year are mostly private schools, with some even raising a billion dollars in one year!
So while private schools may cost more than public schools, they often have the financial resources to provide more financial aid to their students. Never rule out applying to a university based on the cost of tuition. You won’t know what kind of financial package that you will get from a school until after you have been admitted by that school.
Public schools can be far less expensive than private schools, especially if you are a local student. Staying in town or in state for many public universities is quite an advantage as most states have lower costs for in state students. They may also have special scholarships or grants designated for in state students. Between getting an in-state grant and having lower costs as an in-state student, you may end up with quite an affordable price for your college education.
Public schools also tend to admit more students, so you have a better chance of getting accepted just because of the number of spots available. This is the case even if you are an out of state student applying to a public university. Being from out of state and applying to a public school can be quite advantageous because many universities want to have a diverse student body with students from all over the country and with different backgrounds. While there are some public schools like UC Berkeley or UC Los Angeles who have stringent entrance standards, most public universities have acceptance standards for a wide range of students as they seek to provide as many students as possible the chance of getting a college education.
As you begin creating your list of colleges, keep in mind these factors as well as some others on our Your List page.
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