15 factors to consider when you choose your college
We cannot stress enough on how important it is to choose the right career for yourself. But once you make up your mind about that, it is equally important to choose the right college. Picking the right institution can be quite tedious as you have to meticulously analyse several aspects in order to make sure it is “the one.”
To help you make a well informed decision, we give you a list of factors that can help you differentiate one college from the other and pick the best one for your education-
Accreditation is a way to ensure that the college is maintaining the standards set by regulatory bodies. Most employers and post graduate colleges only consider candidates from colleges that are accredited by nationally recognised agencies. Your degree and your potential as a candidate for a job or a masters degree can be questioned if your college is unaccredited. Make sure that the college you choose falls under the right accredited list.
2. Teaching Faculty
Assuming that you are going to spend a fair amount of your time in college studying, the quality of teaching plays a major role in your growth as a student. Try reaching out to currently enrolled students of a college to find out what they have to say about the quality of teaching in the college.
Also try to find out the average highest qualification of the teaching faculty, or the number of professors with a post-graduate and/or Ph.D. degrees. You can easily find out this information on most college websites.
3. Student to Faculty Ratio
It is the total number of students divided by the number of teachers. Student to faculty ratio is usually mentioned on college websites. Although it may not be the only factor influencing the class size, it will give you a general idea.
If you are somebody who prefers more personal attention and direct in-class discussions with the professor, you should look out for places with a low student to faculty ratio.
Who doesn’t want a job offer in hand before college ends? If getting a job immediately after college is your priority, you should closely evaluate the placement cell of the college. The different aspects to consider can be-
- the facilities they offer (preparatory tests, mock interviews, career counselling),
- the list of companies taking part in the placements, and
- the job profiles offered in the previous years.
The break-up of the number of students placed in each industry and the streams they studied is also very important. A college may have a record of good placements in certain streams while below average in others.
5. Course & Curriculum
With no dearth in the variety of courses being offered today, stressing upon the type of course, course structure and curriculum would take you a long way.
Suppose you’ve figured that you are interested in, say, Electrical engineering, based on a couple of topics you liked in school. One of the colleges you are considering might have much more exposure to that topic than the other, which could make a big difference to how your education shapes up. Research and find out the curriculum that you think suits you the best.
(Also, check the flexibility of the course by making a note of the electives offered.)
Good infrastructure for a college is essential for many reasons. You might not appreciate a decent one, but if it is bad, it can affect you in ways you can’t imagine.
Consider this: you are going to spend most part of your day on the campus for three years or more. You would not want to, say, sit in the college garden to take your exams. Or go hunting outside campus for your course books because your library doesn’t have enough of them. A well-stocked library, clean laboratories with proper equipment in working condition, good facilities in campus are the characteristics of a good college.
7. Co-curricular & Extra Curricular Activities
Life beyond academics matters a lot to many people. It can also give people an opportunity to find the right career footing. While industrial visits and technical workshops teach you the real life application of what you learn, cultural/sports fests, social clubs and other events help in nurturing your hobbies & interests. Besides, they also help you learn how to socialise better and build your personality.
8. Department of Study
If your college is good but the department you choose isn’t, it would help you very little as an individual. Most colleges will make themselves well-known for their excellence in one or more of their departments. You should keep an eye open for this detail.
If still in doubt, contact the current students of the college to find out more.
9. Cost and Financial Aids
This is a major factor to consider when short-listing colleges. You should compare and evaluate things like tuition fee structure, accommodation fee, available scholarships, available loans and interest rates, before making any decision.
10. Student Exchange Programs
You can get a chance to experience a whole other country, a different culture and add a completely new dimension to your perspective. Being an exchange student helps you develop a multi-faceted approach in life and is also a great opportunity to learn a foreign language.
Exchange programs also give you an opportunity to explore further your education and career options. Besides, your socialising and communication skills also tend to improve when you step out of your social support system and comfort zone.
11. Location and size of campus
The college’s proximity to your home along with medical, transport and other facilities is another factor that you need to consider. If you live in the same city/town, the time you spend in commuting to and from college every single day needs to be calculated. If you plan on living on campus, make sure that the size of the campus does not keep you from attending classes, while allowing enough space to move around at the same time.
12. Safety & Security
Learning can not happen in an unsafe and insecure environment. Check out the safety precautions taken for the campus and the security measures in place to avoid any life-threatening or risky situations.
13. Accommodation & Transportation
Does the college provide hostel accommodation? How many beds are available in the hostel? What qualifies you to apply for the hostel? How is the college campus connected with the city? Is the public transport in the area good? Is it safe? What is the frequency of the public buses to and from the college to other areas of the city? Can you get a cab from the college in case of an emergency? These are a few questions you should find answers to.
14. Graduation Rate
Graduation rate is the percentage of fresh graduate students of a college, who complete their designated program in 150% of the allotted time for it.
For example, for a four-year degree program, if 60 out of 100 students finish in four years and 20 graduate in the next two years, the graduation rate would be 80%. (Don’t overlook the percentage of students completing the full program from the college in more than six years or failing to do so entirely.)
15. College Reputation
This could simply be word of the mouth or the coverage the college got in the news or social media. You cannot overlook the reasons, good or bad, for which the college has been in the news in the past.
This is a broad classification of the things you should look for in your potential college. There will be more minute details like the taste of the food served, hygiene practices on the campus, number and quality of college publications etc that affect your college experience and could be consequential later. But it can be extremely time consuming and tedious to list everything down and go about checking in the colleges, especially when you have a number of colleges to decide between.
A quick alternative is to go visit the colleges and talk to the students there. But when the colleges are in different corners of different cities, it might prove difficult. Besides, not many colleges allow students taking a tour before admissions. College brochures may contain a lot of information but they are aimed at luring prospective students to their colleges and can also be biased about the data mentioned and the way they mention it. Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks and make sure you verify the information you come across as much as possible. You can try to contact current students of a college over social media as most colleges have groups for them now.
We hope this list helps you to choose your college wisely.
Which of these factors would you consider? Share your views in the comments below.