Things to Consider:
Look for the colleges that offer the right courses and have the right facilities for the kinds of studies you want to undertake. If you want science, make sure they have up-to-date labs, computers and other facilities. If you’re not sure yet, look for a school with a broad-based liberal arts program.
Find out the admission requirements – average class standing, grade point average and/or admission test scores for accepted students.
Total college cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, room and board – as well as other associated costs, such as transportation, books. Every college is required to provide a net price calculator to help students estimate how much that college will actually cost. Check each college's website for the net price calculator.
Close to home or far away? A big city with all its attractions, easy access to the outdoors or the serenity of a small town? Ask yourself what you want from your college location.
Look beyond just the size of the student body: find out the size of the faculty, the student to faculty ratio and how accessible the faculty members are. If you think you might be overwhelmed at a large university, look for a school with a smaller number of students. But remember, even at a larger school, after your first couple of years, classroom size gets smaller and you get to know the students in your major area of study.
Diversity — geographic, racial, and religious — of the student body at each college and how each community might offer an opportunity to learn more about the world.
If a religious orientation is important to you, find out what types of campus-based religious activities and places of worship are available.
Sports & Activities
A rich social life is an important part of the college experience. Learn about clubs and other organizations, sports, arts and other activities. Aim for a good balance between academics and extracurricular activities. If you are planning to participate in varsity sports, get detailed information about being a student-athlete at NCAA.org.
Retention and Graduation Rates
The percentages of students returning after freshman year and graduating in four years are good indicators of the strength of a college's student support system as well as the overall satisfaction of its students.
Financial aid is available at every college, but some have more than others. Private, independent colleges may charge more for tuition and other expenses, but they also tend to offer more financial aid. Contact college financial aid offices for information.
Visit the Campus
Visit different kinds of colleges to learn what you like. Take a campus tour and use HESC's Campus Tour Checklist to gather information. Many schools offer open houses and campus visits on weekends. You can also take “virtual tours” at many college websites.
Talk to Students & Alumni
Nobody knows as much about a school as students who are currently enrolled and alumni who have graduated. The students can tell you about campus life and academics. The alumni will tell you whether a degree from this institution fulfilled their educational expectations and how it helped them in their careers.