With over 4,000 universities in the US, it can be difficult to determine which schools are best for you. Though rankings may play a role, there are significant differences in ethos, environment, and pedagogical approach even amongst the most selective schools.
At A-List, we help students find the “best fit” when applying to colleges. This means assessing the academic offerings and opportunities but also helping students reflect about what other qualities are important to them as they choose where to spend the next four years.
Here are some topics beyond academics students should consider:
Distance from Home: How long is the flight? How much did it cost? Was it relatively easy to travel from home to the campus?
School Setting: Do you like the location? Does it have the social and cultural opportunities you desire? Can you get around off-campus, if you need to? Do you like the climate? The US is a diverse country and a school’s setting, even amongst the most selective schools, will vary considerably from school to school.
Campus and Facilities: Do you like the size and setting of the campus? How is the condition of the buildings? Would you feel comfortable and safe? Does it have the modern conveniences and necessities you’re looking for? How is the quality of the facilities related to your area of study?
Students Body/Ethos: Do you like the other students you encounter during your visit? Are there clubs/societies that you are interested in?
Faculty and Academics: Does the current course catalogue offer what you need and want? If you observed any classes, how did the class size feel? Did you like the professor? Are there research opportunities for students? Are the professors approachable?
Dormitories: Did you like the size and condition? How was the bathroom access? Are you able to choose where you live and your roommates? Do most students live on campus?
Dining Hall and Food Options: Did you like the look and feel of the dining hall? Did the food and menu appeal to you? Are there other convenient meal options available? If you have dietary needs, will these be met?
Student Life/ Social Scene: What do students do for fun? Are their student groups and activities you will want to participate in?
All of these qualities will impact a student’s overall experience thus affect the quality of their education. The diversity in the US higher education system means that students can find a school that meets their expectations, but that does require investigating all of these categories. If you want to get accepted to a school that is right for you and you would like help throughout the process, please feel free to reach out to the A-List Advising Team!