How to Know if a College’s Culture Is a Good Fit For You

Northwestern University campus - visiting a college can help answer the question "what college should I go to?"

Flickr user Eric Fredericks

Some students worry more about the academic aspects of college, while others worry more about finances. Others are worried more about what the school itself is like. Do you find yourself wondering, “What college should I go to?” based on the culture of the institution?

What College Should I Go To Based On Its Culture?

The best way to learn about the culture of any college is to tour the campus. On a visit you can ask about, and experience, the atmosphere of the school.

But first, you must consider what is important to you not only academically but culturally as well.

  • Are you interested in college social organizations or do you really want to excel with academic offerings?
  • Do your strengths and interests lies in collegiate sports, debate teams, or art clubs?
  • Does a highly competitive environment bring out the best in you or does it overwhelm you?
  • Are you looking for a large campus where you can meet lots of people or do you prefer smaller colleges where everybody knows everybody else?
  • Do you see yourself spending your free time participating in outdoor activities or does the noise and hubbub of city life energize you?

All these things go into making up a college’s culture. Give some thought to these questions so you first have a better understanding of what it is you want. Only then can you determine if a college’s culture matches yours.

Once you’ve identified your own preferences and priorities, the best way to see if a college is the perfect fit for you is to schedule an extended campus visit.

How to Determine a College’s Culture During a Campus Visit

While touring the campus, ask your guide about campus life and what types of activities and facilities are available to students. If there is a particular sport or activity that you are interested in, take a look at the facilities available.

Get permission to attend a class in session. Observe the professor’s style of teacher and their interaction with the class. Do you see yourself as one of the students in that class or was the teaching style too aloof for you?

Speak to a couple of students and ask them their opinion about the faculty, facilities, and overall culture on campus. Do the students look happy or do they look stressed?

Having a meal in the cafeteria and spending at least one night in the dorm can give you invaluable insight into the culture on campus. Is it something you can relate to?

Do They Value What You Value?

If social justice is important to you, ask about what sorts of resources are available on campus. If academics are important to you, make sure the school is rigorous enough for your demanding standards.

Everyone’s personal values are different. Make sure your dream school matches yours.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!

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