9 Things to Look for in a Prospective College

When you’re searching for a college or university, there are numerous things to keep in mind—and that can be overwhelming! We get it, so our experts broke down the top nine things to consider while you search for your home away from home.1. A college that is bold and innovative

A person working with a VR headset

Search for a forward-looking university that is constantly seeking new ways to improve the student experience. Your college choice should ignite growth toward your dreams while bettering the world around you. This place will jump-start your future, so make sure you do some digging!


2. A college and programs that are accredited

A college building

While there are many great colleges out there, you want to make sure you’re choosing one that will offer you the best education possible. Look for a college that is not only accredited as a whole but also accredits its programs. This can be extremely important if you’re looking to study something that requires a license or certification.

While it seems obvious, make sure your college of choice has your preferred major. Undecided? That’s okay too! You’ll want a liberal arts education that introduces you to several fields during your general education courses.


3. A college with state-of-the-art facilities

Two people experiment with a robot.

When you’re touring prospective colleges, be sure to really take note of the facilities. Is the campus well-maintained? Do the buildings look new or updated? Are there state-of-the-art facilities that will benefit your education? The more updated their facilities are, the likelier you are to understand the technology relevant to your career when you enter the workforce.


4. A college with faculty passionate about teaching

A professor going over a paper with two students.

The quality of your education will largely be determined by the quality of your professors. Make sure to choose a college where the faculty are not only experts in their fields but are also passionate about teaching. Often one priority for professors is conducting research, which helps them to be experts in their field.

Since that takes time, some large colleges employ graduate students to teach classes. They are called Teaching Assistants. At smaller and mid-sized universities, more classes are likely to be taught by professors, giving the students to interact directly with professors. Look for a place where you have access to your professors—the experience is invaluable!


5. A college with a strong commitment to student success

A student being presented a diploma.

The transition into college can be a tough one. What resources will be available to you at your chosen college? Besides tutoring and other academic services, how does the college support your total wellbeing? Pay attention to whether you have easy access to medical care, counseling services, financial assistance, and help filling basic needs. While you may not need all or any of these services, it’s better to have them than to realize you don’t when you need them most.


6. A college with a diverse student body

College students laughing as they work on a project.

You’ll want to choose a college where you’ll feel like you fit in, but don’t forget to also consider the value of diversity. College is about expanding your horizons, and a diverse student body can offer different perspectives and experiences that can enrich your own. Besides the gender and ethnic breakdown of your college, pay attention to learning experiences. Are there programs and activities that expose you to other cultures and walks of life? Learning happens in more than just the classroom!


7. A college that provides hands-on experiences

Researchers in a lab.

What can your college or university do for you? Preparation for the ‘real world’ is incredibly valuable and shouldn’t be hard to find at your prospective college. Will your courses give you field placements? Are there opportunities for research or internships?

Other hands-on experiences can be non-academic—like career services within the college. What services are offered beyond the typical resume reviews? Some colleges provide mock interviews to help students practice answering common questions. Others provide assistance with professional attire costs. The more well-connected your college is to the community, the better your options become.


8. A college with a vibrant and active campus life

A person getting ready to serve a shuttlecock in badminton.

If you haven’t gathered this already, we’ll say it again. Try new things. Campus life is how you’ll explore, have fun and engage with others, so make sure you’ll have plenty to do! Take a look at the student organizations and clubs—does anything pique your interest? Are there learning opportunities outside of the classroom? The more you immerse yourself in the college experiences, the more you’ll enjoy your time there!


9. A college that feels like home

A sunset over the UW-Green Bay campus.
The Weidner Center and Theatre Hall during sunset on the UW-Green Bay, Green Bay campus. UW-Green Bay, Sue Pischke University Photographer

Ultimately, you want to choose a college that feels like home. Visit each campus and pay attention to your gut feeling. If a school feels right, it’s probably because it is.

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Alexandra Campion answers common college questions for students learning about higher education. She breaks down industry jargon. As a Marketing and Communications Recruitment Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, her goals include eliminating barriers for first-generation and/or minority students as they embark on their higher education journey.