Questions To Ask When Choosing Colleges

~3 Minutes / ~661 Words
Last Updated Dec 12, 2020

If you’re reading this, you may be a high school student (or perhaps the parent of a high school student) starting to think about which universities to apply to. This is the first of many questions you’ll likely have during the college application process and it’s a big one! For one, there are so many options for you to choose from: According to US News and World Report, there are over four-thousand colleges and universities in the United States. The options are overwhelming. (For all your college related questions and for organizing yourself during this busy time, we created the Vitae Me App (download here for iOS and Android). It’s like a college admissions counselor in your pocket!

Questions To Ask Yourself

At Occam, we know a lot about college admissions and we ask our students a lot of questions to help them narrow down their college options. Below is a list of some of these questions and what we hope to gain from asking them of our students. Hopefully they will also be helpful to you!

What do you want to study?

If you have an idea of what you’d like to major in, this can eliminate many schools if they don’t offer that program of study. If you don’t know what you want to study, you may want to consider a liberal arts education, where you can study many subjects before deciding on a major.

Where would you like to study?

This is really multiple questions. We want to learn if a student wants to study in a particular area of the country, if they would prefer a larger or smaller school, and if a suburban, rural, or urban environment fits their needs.

Do you learn best in small, hands-on classes or are you comfortable in large, lecture style classes?

Usually larger schools and common majors will have large, lecture style classes, particularly for freshmen and sophomores. Smaller schools and less common majors are more likely to have smaller, more intimate classes.

What is important to you in terms of campus life?

Whether you are interested in athletics, greek life, religious activities, community service opportunities, or a semester abroad, knowing what you want to do on campus is really helpful!  Listing activities you want to participate in can help you choose or remove schools from your list.

What are your financial aid considerations?

Different schools have different financial aid profiles. For example, some schools may be more likely to give scholarships, or may special grants for students who choose particular majors. State schools are significantly cheaper if you live in-state.

What is your résumé like?

While last on this list, this question is arguably the most important. Your grades, test scores, extracurriculars and activities will all help determine what schools may be a good fit for you. All together, think of this as your body of work, and this body of work dictates what’s possible for you and what’s not, admissions wise. For example, if you have a 30 composite score on the ACT, then you will have your pick of many schools but may not realistically get into schools like Harvard, Stanford, or MIT. If you’ve spent many summers at coding and software development camps, you may be more likely to get into competitive technical schools like Georgia Institute of Technology or CalTech.

We at Occam know that there is a great school option out there for everyone; one that fits your criteria and will offer you a rich education and positive experience. We often take the approach that sometimes there are nothing but good options. Still, deciding where to apply is a tough and big decision. These questions will help guide you in creating your college application list and once you have this list, use the Vitae Me app (download here for iOS and Android) to track your applications, deadlines and more! Good luck as you navigate this exciting time!