Copyright

Ch 3: Characteristics of a College

About This Chapter

Topics covered in this chapter can help you determine which college characteristics are important to you. Use the video lessons to help weigh the financial considerations alongside admissions info, academic opportunities and student life options.

Characteristics of a College: Chapter Summary

The variety of schools out there is enough to capture anyone's imagination, but which college or university is the right fit for you? Our trained guidance counselors can help you navigate such characteristics as school type and cost, admissions criteria, academic offerings and student life options to help you make the right decision. This chapter includes:

Choosing a School Type and Location

Start your investigation of school characteristics by taking on the practical and emotional considerations of a college's location. For example, will you be homesick if you opt for a school far from the familiar sights and sounds of home, and how often could you return for a visit? There are also the financial aspects of in-state or out-of-state tuition to think about. Our guidance counselors can help you assess these options and more. Let us show you criteria for comparing small and large schools or weighing the costs and benefits associated with attending a private vs. public college. Learn how to sort through factors including class size, housing, research and study abroad opportunities.

Determining Cost and Financial Aid Options

Determining what type of school you want to attend might be easy compared to mining the financial data. We'll not only show you how to calculate the total cost of tuition, fees, books, living expenses and transportation but also how these might differ depending on whether you go to a community college, public university or private school. In short, let us show you everything you'll need to know about determining a school's real cost before factoring in the availability of financial aid and scholarship options. Learn the differences between these two award types and the common qualifications for both, including parental income, ethnic background and academic record. Our guidance counselors can also teach you how to research a school's financial outlook and explain why this matters.

Evaluating the Admissions Criteria

Once you've looked into school types and financing, you'll want to assess your chances of getting in. Find out how to look into schools' admissions criteria and learn what type of applicants they're looking for. We can show you what a competitive admissions process or open admissions policy might say about the academic environment awaiting you. And while most schools accept alternative or transfer credits of some sort, we'll show you techniques for finding colleges and universities that award a variety of prior learning assessment, transfer and exam credits, as well as the benefits of attending these schools.

Exploring Your Academic Options

The quality of the education you'll receive is, of course, one of the most important school characteristics. Our guidance counselors lay out some of the criteria you can use to determine if a school is the right fit for you academically. Learn how to assess the number and variety of majors, academic support services and research opportunities available. We can also outline the pros and cons of semester vs. quarter schedules and show you how to evaluate student success rates. Discover how the percentage of students returning to class each year or completing their degree programs reflects on a school. For example, can students get the classes they need, or do they drop out due to a lack of academic support?

Considering Student Services and Activities

While student life won't weigh as heavily on your school choice as academic or financial aid considerations, we can help you discover the Greek life, student clubs, sports teams, volunteer opportunities and housing options important to many students. You can explore which activities are of interest to you and find out what's available in terms of disability or physical and mental health services. Many schools also offer career services to help develop your interviewing and resume writing skills, locate internships or field experiences and find a job after you graduate. Our counselors can help you navigate these options as well.

15 Lessons in Chapter 3: Characteristics of a College
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
How to Choose a College Location

1. How to Choose a College Location

When choosing a college, as with real estate, location matters. But how does location impact a student's choice? In this lesson, we will examine the benefits of different locations, including home and away colleges and urban and rural colleges.

Tips for Comparing Public and Private Colleges

2. Tips for Comparing Public and Private Colleges

Students are often faced with the choice of whether to attend a private or a public university. How can you decide? Watch this lesson to find out more about how to compare private and public colleges and what resources they have.

Evaluating Student Success Rates

3. Evaluating Student Success Rates

How do you know if a college is a good one for you? One way to evaluate colleges is based on their graduation and attrition rates. Watch this lesson to find out what these can tell you about the colleges you are considering.

How Can You Find the Financial Health of a College?

4. How Can You Find the Financial Health of a College?

Colleges vary in how healthy their finances are. In this lesson, we'll explore the financial health of various colleges, including why it is important to prospective students and warning signs that a college might be in financial trouble.

Comparing Large and Small Colleges

5. Comparing Large and Small Colleges

Choosing a college can feel overwhelming. There are many elements that you can use to evaluate colleges. In this lesson, we'll look at how the size of a college can influence its school culture, and how to know what size school is right for you.

For-Profit and Not-For-Profit Colleges

6. For-Profit and Not-For-Profit Colleges

Students have a lot of options when it comes to colleges. But which ones are the best choices? In this lesson, we'll examine the difference between for-profit and not-for-profit colleges and how to know which is the right choice for you.

What is Accreditation?

7. What is Accreditation?

Choosing a college can have a lasting impact on a person's life. In this lesson, we'll examine accredited colleges, including why accreditation is important, the drawbacks of attending an unaccredited college, and the types of accreditation.

Finding the Real Cost of College: Tips for Students

8. Finding the Real Cost of College: Tips for Students

Many students think tuition is the only cost they need to worry about when calculating their college budget, but the cost of college goes beyond tuition. This lesson will help you learn to estimate your financial needs when planning your education.

Do I Qualify for Scholarships or Financial Aid?

9. Do I Qualify for Scholarships or Financial Aid?

Financial aid vocabulary and procedures can be difficult to understand. This lesson will help by reviewing the different types of financial aid, how you can determine eligibility and how to maximize your financial aid possibilities.

Which Student Life Options Should I Consider?

10. Which Student Life Options Should I Consider?

Though it shouldn't be the first consideration in the decision where to go to college, student life is still an important part of deciding on a college. Watch this lesson to find out what student life encompasses and how to evaluate a college's student life options.

Semester vs. Quarter Schedule: Pros and Cons

11. Semester vs. Quarter Schedule: Pros and Cons

This lesson will cover the quarter schedule and the semester schedule systems. Learn about the pros and cons of each in order to make a choice that matches your style.

Evaluating the Academics of a College

12. Evaluating the Academics of a College

The most important part of deciding on a college is understanding the academics at that college. Watch this lesson to find out how to evaluate a college's academics, including academic options and academic quality.

Decide Which Student Services Are Important for You

13. Decide Which Student Services Are Important for You

Learn about the different types of student services you can find at college. Decide what's important to you to help you narrow down your college choices.

How To Evaluate College Admissions Criteria

14. How To Evaluate College Admissions Criteria

Applying for college can be stressful and confusing. In this lesson, we'll go over the college admissions process, including looking at where students can go for answers about specific admissions questions and what colleges look for.

Find Colleges That Accept Alternative Transfer Credits

15. Find Colleges That Accept Alternative Transfer Credits

Transfer credits are one way that students can save money on college expenses. In this lesson, we'll look at alternative ways to earn transfer credits and how to find out whether a school accepts alternative transfer credits.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
Not Taken
Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
Not Taken

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Support