Choosing a college is a deeply personal decision. It can feel like there are countless factors to consider, from acceptance rates to geographic location to majors offered to how cozy the dorms are (or aren't). While no two college searches are exactly alike — just as no two college students are exactly alike — many students share the same core concerns as they compare and contrast schools. If you’ve ever wondered how your values line up with your future classmates’, here’s what’s on the minds of the rest of your classmates:
1. Their field of study comes first.
If they’re going to invest time, energy and money into four-plus years of college, students want to make sure they’re getting what they came for: their chosen major. That major’s very existence, and the strength of the department supporting it, can immediately rule schools out (or in).
2. They want their degree to be worth something.
Once their degree is in their hands, students want that degree to actually mean something to prospective employers. This isn’t a grab for prestige schools at any cost (although prestige doesn’t hurt). Instead, students are more interested in the percentage of graduates who find jobs right out of school, in hopes of quickly joining their ranks.
3. They’re concerned about costs.
The spectre of debt and recession haunts most college searches (and most graduates). As talking about money gradually becomes less taboo, students are opening up about their financial limitations and the incentives they need to choose one school’s aid or merit package over another. If you’re wearing a hole in your calculator, you’re in good company.
4. They want to fit in.
College searches aren’t all about grim number-crunching. Social lives (and straight-up fun) are still essential to the college experience, and teens are taking that into consideration. After they check out the activities that interest them, whether it’s the sports teams or the arts scene, students also place value on the school’s sheer vibe. Falling down a rabbit hole of internet research only goes so far when it comes to getting a sense of daily life, which is why many students swear by campus visits. Going to a school in person lets you imagine yourself going there — and lets you decide if you like what you see.