Things to Consider
What You Plan to Study
Know your program focus area(s). Find out which classes and credits are required for the major you’re planning to pursue. Then evaluate the curriculum at institutions that offer your program—course catalogs are available on most school websites. Research the instructors in the departments where you’ll be doing the most course work. Many professors and staff have published books, articles, and papers. You might even find lecture videos online. Departments often have some kind of social media presence; consider following these to get a sense of the culture.
Your area of focus and preferred learning style can help determine which class size might suit you best. Think about what has worked for you in high school or past jobs, then find out what the average student-to-instructor ratio is at the schools you’re considering.
Where you sleep, study, and hang out is important. If you’re hoping to live in an on-campus residence hall, find out how many beds are available to first-year students. If you’re interested in joining a fraternity or sorority, be sure to find out if the college you want to attend has these organizations on-campus, and what kind of living situations they offer. If it’s likely that you’ll live off-campus, research the options and cost of housing.
Location and Transportation
As you consider housing, also think about how you’ll get around campus and beyond. Can you bike, take the bus? If you own a car, where can you park? Getting around campus is one thing. Getting to and from college to your home town is another. If your school of choice is far from home, think about how often you might want to see your friends and family.
You and your family must be able to afford the college of your choice. In Idaho, tuition fees range from $8,000 per year to upwards of $25,000 per year for in-state students. It’s important to remember that there are lots of ways colleges and universities are working to make school more affordable. Many Idaho colleges offer fee subsidies or tuition waivers based on your family’s income, GPA, and test scores. When you’re thinking about costs, don’t forget to factor in the cost of books, housing and living expenses, transportation, and expenses for activities you’re planning during the school year.
Social and Extracurricular Activities
Sure, the most important thing to consider is your education. But when you’re not studying, you’ll have the chance to make new friends and take advantage of all sorts of activities on and off-campus. Think about your expectations for collegiate culture. Talk to alumni, check out student blogs, and plan a campus visit.