Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.
Hope is getting ready to go to college. She's narrowed her choices down to just a few schools, but now she's stuck as to how to decide between them. She's already considered the academics and financial aspects of the schools, and they all come out about the same. What else should she consider?
One thing that is important to many students is the student life at a school. Student life is really just a broad way of saying the quality of life that students experience at a given school. This encompasses many different aspects of life outside the classroom, including housing, food, and social activities.
Student life is not as important as getting a good education and should not be considered before academic quality and cost of attendance. However, going to college is a major part of a student's life for several years, and so student life does factor into many students' decisions. For example, Hope already knows that the colleges she's considering are about the same as far as the academics and cost are concerned, so she can now turn her attention to student life options.
Let's look at some of the elements of student life that Hope and students like her should consider.
Like many students, Hope will live on campus. As such, she needs to take into consideration what campus life is like.
Housing options, usually in the form of dormitories, are where students, like Hope, live. They vary greatly in quality from school to school. At some schools, housing is luxurious, apartment-style suites. At others, dorms resemble bare, cold military barracks. Some have air-conditioning, and some don't. Some have elevators, and some require students to hike the stairs, which can be a pain when moving in or out!
Another important aspect of campus life is the dining options. This is important for students, like Hope, who will live on campus, and also for commuter students, who might want to grab a bite to eat in between classes.
As with housing options, dining options can vary widely from place to place. Some schools only offer one or two dining halls, while others have a large variety of dining halls, cafes, and other eateries. At some schools, the food is delicious, while at others it's...well, not so delicious.
Hope has a special interest in dining options because she has a sensitivity to gluten and dairy, so she eats a very special gluten- and dairy-free diet. As a result, it's important to her that she ends up at a school that can accommodate her needs. Students who are vegetarian, vegan, have food allergies, or keep kosher should check that the campus dining options are sufficient for them.
Of course, food and shelter is only half of the story when it comes to student life. The availability of activities and clubs for students is also important.
Hope knows that she wants to join a club or organization. Some schools offer many options: Greek sororities and fraternities, specialized clubs, and all sorts of organizations. At a school with many options, Hope is almost guaranteed to find a club or organization that's right for her.
On the other hand, at a school with more limited options, Hope might not be able to find just the right place for herself.
Another thing that's important to Hope is volunteer opportunities. Volunteering can help people who are less fortunate, and it looks good on resumes, too! Many colleges have a special network to help students find volunteer opportunities on campus or in the neighborhood but not all do. Since this is important to Hope, she wants to make sure that there are a lot of options for her to volunteer her time.
For many people, college is synonymous with sports. Hope loves college basketball and is very excited to attend some games once she gets to school. But schools are not all equal when it comes to sports. Some schools have a robust athletic program, while others have little or no athletics. For Hope to watch her college get into the Final Four, she'll have to pick a school with a strong athletic program!
Student life is one element of college that prospective students should consider. Though it is not the most important part of deciding where to go, there are vast differences in schools' student life options, and students should understand that going in. Some elements of student life that can be considered include housing, dining, clubs and organizations, volunteer opportunities, and sports.
You could complete this lesson in order to:
- Analyze the various aspects of student life
- Take note of some of the characteristics of student housing
- Check into different activities that students can participate in
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