Common Things People Overlook when Selecting a College

how to decide on a college

Flickr user Converse College

When it’s time to start the college search, it’s easy to overlook aspects of each school. You’re often concentrating on your intended major and the academics. However, there are some things that many students overlook when they’re thinking about how to decide on a college These below are only a few examples.

Freshman Retention Rates

You have your list of colleges you plan to investigate further, but have you really delved into the statistics of each? One such statistic you may have missed is the “Freshman Retention Rate.” This percentage can tell you exactly how many first-year students decide to stay at the school after a year, either because they discovered they personally did not enjoy the school or because they failed their courses.

How many students are staying on at your intended college after they complete their freshman year? If it seems like a low number, you might want to look a bit further into the “why.”

Graduation Rates

In addition to taking a look at how many first years finish their freshman courses, you should be researching the particular college’s graduation rates. This rate can tell you how many students finish their degrees “on time” or within 4 years. You can even see how many took six or eight years to earn their degree and leave college.

Investigate your college’s graduation rates. Lower percentages can point to difficult coursework, lack of academic support, high student loan debt, and more. You may want to consider a different school if the particular college’s graduation rates are extremely low within four years. Those extra years to graduate can cost you.

Campus Life

Campus life is central to your college expensive, yet is often overlooked by prospective college students who are more focused on the academic aspect of their new school and home. It is nearly as important! You have to ensure you will be comfortable at your dorms, in town, and around campus.

Before applying, check out what the college offers as far as clubs and organizations. When you go to visit the school, don’t forget to walk around town. Ask current students what activities and hot spots are around your new potential home. Campus life and how it fits with your personality should be an essential aspect of your college search.


Another commonly overlooked aspect of the college search is your new school’s environment. It’s similar to campus life, but many don’t consider it. If you grew up in a big city, would you be comfortable in a tiny, rural town with less to do and fewer people to meet? Or vice versa? If you grew up where it regularly snows, would you enjoy a hotter climate?

Your physical environment and location of the school matters just as much as the campus life. Where are you comfortable?

When figuring out how to decide on a college, it’s important to take the entire picture before deciding which to apply to. Academics are important, but so are freshman retention rates, graduation rates, campus life, and the environment. You want to be sure you can call this college “home.”

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