September 23, 2016
Guidebooks and magazines are filled with lists of great colleges, and although these rankings have value, they cannot decide which university or college is best for an individual student's career goals, interests, talents, and personality. Most rankings represent institutions with lots of resources, strong reputations, and good value, but there are other factors that should also be taken into consideration before choosing a college.
Low Student/Faculty Ratio
Many outstanding colleges have a low student to faculty ratio. In general, the lower this number is, the more personal attention students receive from professors. If the ratio is greater than 20 students per faculty member, classes are likely to be big lectures where students get lost in the crowd and professors are overworked.
Good Financial Aid
Great colleges are often expensive, but some offer better financial aid packages than others. Before choosing a school, research the average amount of grant aid and what percentage of students receive it. Don't discount private colleges for financial reasons because many offer more significant aid than public institutions.
United Way helps families and individuals build a financial foundation to pay for a college education. Through United Way's programs and a school's financial aid packages, a college education can be affordable.
Clubs and Activities
The number of activities and student groups at a university is not as important as their quality. The best colleges represent a wide variety of interests, offering opportunities for Greek life, volunteerism, the performing arts, intramural sports, outdoor activities, and more.
An engaging college curriculum inspires students and is relevant to life outside college. Great colleges give a clear rational for their core curriculum, leave room for electives, and offer a first-year curriculum that helps students transition into college life.
Research and Internship Opportunities
Graduates need practical experience on their resumes, and great colleges help students obtain meaningful internships by building relationships with organizations and companies.
Strong Academic Support Services
Nearly all students struggle at some point during college, but academic support services can help them stay on track and thrive. Great colleges offer individual tutors, learning labs, writing centers, study sessions, and other resources that serve students academically.