How to Evaluate Colleges

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How to Evaluate Colleges

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Yikes! Between all the unsolicited mail you're getting from Noidea U., college fairs, and everyone you know offering their opinions, how do you evaluate which school would be best for you? Here are 10 handy guidelines to follow to avoid common pitfalls and make the right decision.

10. Pay little (if any) attention to school rankings.
There are as many ranked lists of colleges out there as there are colleges themselves. You shouldn't put much credence in these us—they're way too subjective to give you any valuable insight into a particular college or university. And they change drastically year by year.

9. Also, ignore the student/faculty ratio.
Trust us—it's not going to matter whether there are 4 or 400 students in your biology lecture class. Generally, the student/faculty ratio reported by campuses is meaningless; it's an average: there are going to be far more students in an intro level lecture than in, say, a freshman writing workshop. (But do pay attention to what percentage of classes are taught by grad students us—if it's high, be wary).

8. Some stats are worth noting.
Namely, you'll want to know a school's freshman year retention rate (should be 93% or better) and the alumni giving rate (should be around 60%). These both reflect how students feel about the school us—whether they like it enough to stay, and then whether they remember it fondly enough to give money back in the future. If you're applying for financial aid, check the average percentage of demonstrated need met us—it will tell you more than just the dollar amount of the average aid package.

7. Comfort matters.
This is where you will be living for at least 4 years. Is the food edible? Does the school guarantee housing? How are the dorms? Are the bathrooms clean? If you don't think you'd be able to live there, you probably shouldn't try. This is why campus visits are so important.

6. Ask about other colleges.
This is a question for an admissions officer. You should ask, "What other colleges would I be interested in?" It's not necessarily something to bring up at an admissions interview, but on a standard campus visit, it's a good way to gauge the type of school this college sees itself as being, as well as a good way to expand your list of target schools.

5. Check campus crime statistics.
New federal legislation requires colleges to produce and report campus crime stats. Try to read between the lines on this one us—if you are in love with a school that has a "high" crime rate, do some investigating us—that rate could be attributed to nothing more than a rash of bike thefts. Don't hesitate to contact campus security on your own to discuss this.

4. Talk to alumni from your high school.
Or contact someone from your high school who's currently attending a particular college or university. Asking just any student at a college their opinion of the school can be helpful, but it doesn't offer the same insight as would someone who comes from the same town, same school, etc.

3. How wired is the campus?
This goes beyond the number of computers in the school's computer lab. Is there a T1 connection in all dorm rooms?

2. Check that price again.
A state school at first glance may seem a fraction of the cost of a private college or university. But do students at state schools generally graduate in four years? As a rule, not many do. Check that state school's four-year graduation rate before choosing it over a private school for cost reasons.

For more tips on financing your college education, Click Hereicon

1. Identify the 3 most important attributes of the ideal school.
You should spend time thinking about the "must-haves" of a college. For some, location is an important factor. For others, size (big or small) is a consideration. Some students don't mind if their school doesn't focus on athletics if students seem to have a strong interest in intramurals.

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