Selecting a College


Only you can identify the qualities of a college which will allow you to gain the most from your total college experience. Some of the possibilities are listed below -- to stimulate your own thought. The list may not include something that is very important to you. Create your own list, ranked in order of preference, for use on the college comparison worksheet.

Academic conditions:

Student/faculty ratio
Freshmen class size, male/female ratio
Flexibility of programs (e.g. do they have interdepartmental programs?)
Opportunities for independent study
Special study programs: field work, internships, foreign study
Standards: Accreditation; degree requirements; grading systems
Philosophy: Career-orientation/scholarly orientation, conservative/innovative
Suitability for your career interest
Libraries, laboratories, computer facilities
Laptop requirements and utilization
Accessibility of senior faculty to undergraduate students
% of freshmen who graduate


Distance from home and other family
Relative ease of travel, independent of distance
Annual weather pattern -- requirements for a different wardrobe
Surroundings (urban or rural, etc.)
Dormitory facilities (number of students per room, total number in dorm)

student body:

Income distribution
Geographic distribution
Racial distribution
Rule and regulations

Campus Activities

Sports -- both intramural and intramural
Recreational facilities for individual or ad hoc group use
Interest-centered organizations (e.g. language clubs, pre-med club)
Fraternities or sororities
Honorary organizations (including Phi Beta Kappa, professional honoraries, etc.)
Invited academic speakers

You may want to give particular weight to "basic facts" -- especially costs or admissions selectivity on the worksheet. You can include these in the summary evaluation as part of positive or negative impressions.

You may find it useful to note the source of particular information (e.g. which guide, what person), since different sources may be more reliable -- or more important to you.


The criteria below are in arbitrary order, although related items (e.g. academic versus student life) are groups for convenience. While some flexibility is advisable even after ranking especially due to new information, it is helpful to have a reasonably organized idea of what matters before you begin to compare data from college guides or other sources. Consider this to be a preliminary exercise -- one in which both parents and students participate individually, then in consultation with one another in the future.

_____admissions selectivity                                  _____male/female student ration

_____freshman class size                                       _____student income distribution

_____% of freshmen who graduate                        _____student geographic distribution

_____student/faculty ratio                                     _____dormitories

_____% of faculty with Ph.D.                                _____recreational facilities

_____facilities (laboratories, etc.)                             _____social activities

_____% of graduates admitted to professional/       _____fraternities/sororities

graduate school

_____special programs (of any sort)                       _____rules/regulations

_____honorary societies                                          _____annual tuition

_____major-related organizations                            _____other costs (board, etc.)

_____% of graduates employed                               _____total travel cost

(at ? starting salary)

_____accreditation level (highest degree                     _____geographic location (N, E, S, W)


_____cultural events                                                    _____urban/rural

_____opportunities for participation                             _____convenience of travel

(e.g., in music, theater)

_____availability of major suitable for                          _____other criterion

career interest (at least one)                                            _____other criterion

_____innovativeness of program                                    _____other criterion

NOTE: You do not need to assign a rank to items that are of no concern to you. When you have finished the list, rank the first eight items in order: