Does the college have the major you want? If you change your major, what other majors are available?
Tuition and Financial Assistance
Financial assistance is generally offered through three sources: college-based; federal, state, or community-based; or private-based. Check with the institution you are transferring to for a comprehensive listing of available financial aid for their institution, including departmental scholarships. The Internet has many sources for financial aid. Understand the terms of each source of financial aid you receive – loans must always be repaid, while grants and scholarships are almost always money that is not repaid. If you have limited financial resources, keep in mind the amount of debt you will have to repay when you graduate.
What about class size? Do you want to disappear in the crowd, or do you want to go to a smaller college where you may receive more individualized attention? A large college usually has many more choices of majors and activities than a smaller school. Smaller colleges may offer fewer choices, but more opportunities for hands-on experiences.
How much extra-curricular (outside of the classroom) activity do you want? Do you want a school where there are opportunities to pursue lots of different interests? Do you want to play sports – either intercollegiate or intramurals? Do you want to have a wide variety of clubs to become involved in?
Career Planning and Placement
Are graduates in your intended field of study finding employment in careers in which you are interested? What is the placement rate of graduates?
Transferability of Credit
A key factor to find out as soon as possible is how well your classes will transfer into your program of study. Sometimes a more expensive college may actually cost you less time and money if they accept more of your credits than a less expensive school. Is the university responsive and specific in answering your questions about transferring? If not, you might want to consider other institutions that are more helpful.
Does the college have adequate resources for you to do the needed research in your classes?
Location of the University
Do you want to be close to home or far away? Do you want to live in a large, medium or small city? Do you want the cultural/entertainment attractions of a large city?
If you move away from your current home, do you want to live on campus or off campus? Do you want to have a roommate(s) to save on expenses, or do you want to live alone? Do you want to join a fraternity or sorority, and if so, would you want to live in their house? If you plan to live in campus housing, be sure you understand the different options available and read the contract carefully before you sign.
Special Services and Programs
Will you need help outside of the classroom – such as tutoring or remedial courses? Be sure to find out how accessible the help would be to you (hours open, location, etc.). Are you interested in joining an ROTC program? How about internships/cooperative training programs where you can gain related work experience while in college? Do you want to be involved in a “study abroad” program? If you are an exceptional student, does the school have an honors program?
Is it important to you that you go to an institution that has an outstanding reputation with “big name” appeal? Examine your desire to go to an expensive prestigious university with the financial impact it will have on you many years after you have finished your degree. Many lesser known and less expensive schools offer as high a quality education as well-known expensive colleges.
Be sure the college you plan to attend is accredited by one of the six regional accreditation agencies in the United States. In Missouri, this accrediting agency is The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In other states, the accrediting agency may be different. If you continue on for a master’s degree, most graduate programs require that your bachelor’s degree be from an accredited university.
Is being in an academic environment with other people of your faith important to you?