When selecting a college, you are trying to answer a lot of highly personal questions that an article or website really can’t answer for you. Instead, we’ll provide you with a list of questions you should ask yourself as you research the different colleges.
Make sure you think deeply about these questions, and about which is most important to you. Talk about them with family, friends, teachers, counselors, mentors, or anybody who knows you well—many people can give you good advice.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Does the college offer the academic resources you are looking for? If a college values your area of interest, it will show in the resources it devotes to it. Does the college support a degree program in the field you are interested in?
- Is the college’s faculty accomplished in your area of study and are they accessible to students? Their engagement with you is a critical factor in determining whether a school is a good fit. As a gifted student, you will likely surpass the standard curriculum fairly quickly and want guidance on starting your own research and areas of inquiry.
- Are there schools, centers, or support resources in your priority fields to give you hands-on experience? Just looking at the physical space devoted to your field of study can tell you a lot.
- Is it the right size for you? Do you want a smaller, more intimate campus, a large university with lots of options, or something in between?
- Do you like the living and dining accommodations? You better, because you’ll be using them for at least the first year or two. Are the residence halls a size that you can, literally, live with? Do the dining outlets accommodate your meal needs?
- Does the student body feel welcoming? Colleges have very different personalities and that’s often reflected in the composition of the student body. Is it a mix of academic, artistic, and athletic? Are there students from all over the world or does everyone pretty much look alike? Are there students from all economic backgrounds? The questions you ask yourself about the student body really depend on whether you want to blend in, expand your horizons, or both.
- Does it offer the right relaxation, entertainment, and extracurricular activities? We all need downtime. What do you like to do? What would you like to learn how to do?
- What type of setting is the college in? Location, location, location. Are you excited about living in a big city with many opportunities happening off-campus, or does it make you feel overwhelmed/distracted/lonely/nervous? Is a college town right for you with a closer-knit community that’s probably very involved with the college, or do you like to see new faces often and would like the option to separate yourself from school things when you want a break? What kind of transportation will be needed/is available when you travel off campus? What’s the weather like?
Once you know these answers, you can take a look at what each college offers and see if they offer you the resources and opportunities you need to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.