It may seem obvious that college is expensive and thus you should physically visit colleges to see which ones you like best before deciding which one to attend. However, this statement is devoid of specific details regarding what might be important to consider when selecting a college. In addition, this statement misses the important fact that visiting a college can increase the likelihood of being accepted, a fact even more applicable to international Chinese students.
1. How will visiting college campuses help you to select colleges that are a good match for you?
Physically touring different campuses gives you an impression and feel for the atmosphere of each campus. Additionally, when touring it is useful to take a list of criteria that are important to you so you may also explore the campuses in a methodical way.
At Hunter Programs Education Services we like to separate college selection criteria into two groups; broad criteria and preferential criteria.
Broad criteria are equally important to all applicants and are typically examined in college ranking systems. These criteria include quality of instruction, academic reputation, and potential earnings upon graduation. See http://hunterprograms.com/college-rankings-to-help-you-find-the-right-college/ for clear information about how to look at colleges from this perspective.
Preferential criteria such as weather, locality, competitiveness, and friendliness can be held in varying levels of importance from one individual to another, but these criteria are not necessarily less important than broad criteria.
We have established a comprehensive list of preferential criteria and divided these criteria into two categories; more and less tangible. This listing can be found at the bottom of this article. Although we refer to these criteria as “preferential” they can strongly affect student performance, success, and happiness.
2. How will visiting college campuses help you get into the colleges you like?
You don’t think visiting colleges is important? Think again! Here is a true story:
My son was waitlisted at a college that is just an hour drive from where we live. So we thought we should drive there to see if it would be a school he would actually like to attend. Glad we did. Even though my son and I are both technical nerds, from the moment we stepped onto the campus we noticed that the degree of nerdiness at this college was at the top of the nerdiness scale. It wasn’t until the student tour guide compared a metal sculpture in an open area to the Antlion in Half-Life that we decided this college was probably not the best match. We visited admissions and curiously inquired about why my son was waitlisted instead of accepted. They said that it was most likely because he never visited the campus. They went on to explain that because we live a short distance from this college, and my son’s qualifications were so high, they figured he would be accepted into many colleges. Their college is small and so they didn’t feel they could risk him saying, “no” to them if they accepted him.
Colleges keep a record of students that have officially visited the campus. Additionally, visiting colleges certainly gives students a strong personal voice when writing college entrance essays regarding what they are looking for in a college and why they have chosen to apply to those particular schools. Remember, you are trying to convince colleges through your experiences, and not just your words, that their college is a great match for you.
3. Why is visiting college campuses even more important for the Chinese applicant?
Consider that over one million foreign students attend college in the United States, one fourth of which are from China. It is safe to presume that the number of applications colleges receive directly from China is in the millions.
Also consider that each year many new American college students decide they are not happy at their chosen schools. The Chinese culture and the schools in China are so very different from the United States. Therefore it is easy to understand why there are far more new Chinese college students who decide that they are not happy at their chosen schools.
We can then conclude that because college rankings are determined in part by student retention rates, college admissions officers are extremely concerned with admitting students who then wish to transfer to another college. In turn, visiting college campuses provides and even stronger voice for Chinese applicants in order to convince admissions, through actions and experiences, that they will be happy attending their chosen colleges.
If you were buying a car, you would at least kick the tires and take it out for a test drive, right? College costs a great deal more than a car. It makes sense that you would want to invest the time necessary to visit colleges and ensure you end up at the right school. Choosing the college that is best for you can lead to a lifetime of happiness and success.
4. What a student should look for in a college.
Tangible Preference Criteria
Why It Matters
|Job Placement Center||Finding a job post college is difficult, having a placement center bridges that connection|
|Work Study Programs||Does the school offer employment opportunities for enrolled students|
|Job Placement Rate||Low post-college placement can hinder ones ability to find employment|
|On-Campus Recruiting||Successfully matches students with specific firms they have a standing rapport with|
|Rural, Suburb, Or City||Depending on the environment you flourish most in, the surrounding area is crucial|
|Public vs Private||Cost may differ vastly as well as reputation and class-size|
|Cost Of Off-Campus Housing||Off-Campus housing, although frequently desired is incredibly expensive|
|Grad School Acceptance Rate||Some less known schools have impressive acceptance rates, for example, into med school.|
|Grade On A Curve||If curved, then cut throat|
|Admission Rate||The higher the stakes for admission, the more competitive the schooling|
|Application Fees||Some schools offer aid or waive application fees|
|Financial Assistance||What percentage of students receive financial aid and what is the average amount given|
|Four Year Graduation Rate||If it takes longer, it costs more|
|Internships Readily Available||Internships are a key aspect of finding post-employment opportunities|
|Easily Change Majors||Consider other majors you might be interested in and if they are offered at your school|
|Anonymity||At larger schools you can be anonymous whereas others know every detail of your life|
|Sport Teams||Consider not only teams you would like to play for but the social aspect of team events|
|Size Of School||The competition that may come or the benefit one may reap in larger or smaller schools|
|Student/Faculty Ratio||Will there be sufficient time and attention devoted by faculty to their students|
|Male/Female Ratio||Are equal opportunities provided in college and post graduation|
|Class Size||Determine if you learn better in smaller classrooms or larger learning environments|
|Distance From Home||Long distance travel is expensive and can limit how much you see your parents|
|Accessibility||Ease of getting from one side of the campus to the other, consider when planning classes|
|Web Classes||Flexibility in classes may aid in working a job or providing more time for other activities|
|Housing Options||On or off campus|
|School Location||Consider weather, cities, proximity to civilization|
|Grad School Placement Rate||Are you considering furthering your education and if so how successful is their placement|
|Available Majors||Think about possible majors you may decide are a better fit|
|Available Classes||The frequency of classes may determine your graduation path|
|Parking On Campus||Is this available and if so what is the additional cost on top of tuition|
|Commuter Services To Off Campus||If you are without a vehicle, how do you plan on getting to campus|
|Campus Social Activities||Think of clubs, activities, and philanthropies the university may be involved with|
|Scholarships Offered||School is expensive, discover what free money is offered|
|Size Of Endowment||What companies or people invest in your college|
|Prestigious Ranking||Ranking can be important when jobs consider hiring you post graduation|
|Greek Life||Fraternizes and sororities can be helpful, or can take precious time away from studies|
|Summer Programs||If you plan on staying around campus, what are programs you could participate in|
|Academic Calendar||What is the length of classes, if you don’t like a course, how long can you wait to drop|
|Fitness And Health Facilities||Is there a gym on campus, are the fees included|
|Cafeteria/Meal Plans||Poor food means bad moral/ What is the cost of eating on campus|
|Study Abroad Opportunities||Countless doors and connections may be forged through international opportunities|
|College Cost||In-state, out-of-state, financial aid, overall price|
|Ranking||Some employers only hire candidates coming from a school with a high ranking|
|Grad Programs Offered||Universities with grad programs may garner much of a schools reputation.|
|Religious Affiliation||You may be require to participate in religious services and standards|
|Disability Services||Do professors provide aid for disabled students|
|Department Cutbacks||Could professors and programs be cut due to funding|
|Refund Policies||If for any reason you cannot continue your education, what are the refund policies|
Intangible Preference Criteria
Why It Matters
|Friendly||Can help you become friendly and a more desirable new hire|
|Competitiveness||Percentage of applications versus acceptance|
|School Spirit||Can help you thrive, or can distract you|
|Learning Style||If you are in college to learn this would seem very important|
|Culturally Diverse||Personal observation is necessary to see if everyone truly blends together|
|Vibe||What is the overall feelings you have towards a school|
|Economically Diverse||Affluent schools and demographics can make it hard to socialize, since that costs money|
|Team Spirit||Can be a fun distraction from too much studying, or may compete for study time|
|School Pride||This can determine how unified a school may be|
|First Impression||For some, this is trust your instinct|
|Quality of Professors||View forums to determine if the staff at your desired school is generally liked by others|
|Liberal Or Conservative||Help you fit in, possibly affect your direction in life|
|Study School Or Party School||Schools known as a party-scene may distract from those who aim to study|
|Comfortable||Proximity to home, familiarity, a place where friends are at|
|Welcoming||If you feel accepted, it doesn’t matter how far you are from home.|
|Environment||Geographic as well as physical aspects of the campus and surrounding areas|
|Reputation||How is the school perceived by others|
|Interaction With Teachers||Are classes small enough where a student can interact with their professors|
|Interaction With Other Students||What types of people are going to this school, do you see yourself fitting in|
|Leadership Opportunity||Is it easy to obtain leadership roles within departments|
|Dorm Life||Social, roommate, noise, location, on campus, comfortable, newer, safe, required|
|Emotional Support System||If far away from friends and family, what types of support systems may be offered|
|Safety In Community||What is the crime rate, what are campus safety precautions|
|Campus Security||Where is campus security located, is there well lit walking areas to and from campus|
|Crime Rate||What types of crimes are occurring in and around the campus|
|School Influence||How does the community perceive the school|
|Friend And Family Recommendations||Where did your family go to school and how do they feel about your top choices|
|School Tradition||Long-standing traditions that may resonate with you|
|Campus Appearance||Is the campus clean, overall offering a good physical impression|
|Alumni Network||How is the post-graduation alumni network|
|Off Campus Social Surroundings||What restaurants, venues, or entertainment options are nearby|
|Special Offers To Students||Anything that makes the school unique|
|Common Areas||Are there places where multiple students congregate or go to relax and study|
|Family And Friends In Area||Is proximity to friends and family is important|
|Career Services||Strong, or are they really invested into this|
|Academic Support Centers||Quality, unlimited, etc|
|History of College||Does the school contain a lot of history, has it been around forever and will continue to be|
|Weather||Are there four seasons, how will that impact your mood or ability to get to and from school|
Let us know if you have any important college selection criteria we should add to our list.