Your college acceptance letters have arrived—now what? You have an exciting decision ahead of you. Choosing a school means finding the institution that will set you on the path you feel called to, not just in terms of your career, but in terms of the kind of person you want to be. Small private colleges, big public universities, and everything in between… which one will be the best fit for you for the next four years? Here are some questions to consider as you go over your options:
1. The academics are strong - but are they the right fit for you?
The education you’ll receive from a college is the biggest factor in your decision but not the only factor. There are a few aspects of a college’s academics students may forget to consider when choosing a college. Not only is it important that the college has academic prestige, but it is also important that the college has the kind of program that you feel called to. We understand that it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what you want to do with your life at 17 or 18 years old, so it might be wise to chose a college that allows you the flexibility to test out multiple programs during your four years.
Another factor is whether the classes will help you make connections with your professors and peers. The relationships you develop with your professors, advisors, and classmates will make a big difference for you in everything from networking to study groups. Developing meaningful relationships is much easier in an environment that provides small class sizes. Taking general ed classes in large lecture halls with 200 of your peers will not ruin your college experience in any way, but try to find a school that ensures small class sizes of under 40 people for your crucial major classes.
2. How will the college encourage your spiritual growth?
As a Christian, you want to go to a college where you will have plenty of resources to help you grow in the faith. If you are looking at a Christian school, try to find out how seriously they take discipleship and God’s Word. Does the college have regular chapel services? Are there Bible studies or outreach ministries you can get involved in? Does the college have a Statement of Faith you agree with that both students and faculty are required to sign? These are excellent indicators of how seriously the college takes developing students spiritually.
If you are looking at a secular university, research the kinds of Bible studies or ministries you can get involved in. Your school will not be pushing you to be a better Christian, but you can plug in with a group that will. No matter whether you go to a Christian or secular institution, make sure you find a good church to attend. College cannot take the place of worshiping with other believers and getting to know believers who are not students. Seek out those who can share their wisdom with you.
3. Does the college have extracurriculars that interest you?
College is not all work and no play! What you do when you are not in class or cramming for a midterm is important to your well-being and well-roundedness as a person. Whether political clubs, a cappella groups, or intramural sports catch your attention, or you are interested in another kind of activity entirely, make sure you find out what kinds of extracurriculars you can get involved in once you are on campus.
Clubs, teams, and student organizations are great ways to build lasting friendships, relieve stress by doing something you love, and maybe even have a bullet point to add to your resume. Do not underestimate the importance of looking into what kinds of activities a college offers.
4. Is the school worth the investment?
Just because a school is more expensive than alternative schools does not mean you should cross it off your list. On the flip side, if the college won't cost you much monetarily, is the quality of the education worth a four-year time investment?
College is an investment in your future that can pay off big time. Take the costs off the table for a moment and consider what a certain college can offer you. Do not just consider whether a college can get you a starter job but whether it will help you become the person God is calling you to be. Will you grow spiritually, intellectually, and socially there? These are important questions that can be answered through admission counselor conversations, campus visits, dorm stays, and prayer.
We hope these four questions have helped you on your journey to finding the right college. Remember that wherever you enroll, your college years are what you make of them.
Let us know in the comments below what you think is most important in a college!