Going to college is about much more than earning a diploma. Going to college also means taking classes of interest, making friends, setting up professional connections, and growing as a student and person. The college you choose is fundamental to the path your life takes. The question is, how do you choose the right college or university for you? And, how can you ensure you are making the best possible choice?
First, we recommend creating a short list of your “must haves.” Let’s say you’ve already decided to attend a university in Connecticut. However, there are about 44 schools in the state. To narrow down your search, ask yourself what is most important to you. Does your dream college have to be close to a big city in Connecticut? Is diversity non-negotiable? Are athletics important to you? Do you have your heart set on a certain degree or area of study? After you’ve made your list, start researching colleges and universities in the desired area. When considering schools, refer to your “must-haves” – if a school matches your personal criteria, you can move on to some of the bigger questions.
Here are seven factors to bear in mind when choosing the best college or university for you in Connecticut.
The first factor you will want to consider when reviewing schools is their accreditation status. The process of accreditation ensures the academic rigor and educational quality of an institution. Accreditation is determined by a combination of state and federal agencies, along with some non-governmental groups. The accreditation status of your school can also impact the way employers view the validity of your college diploma. Make sure the college you choose is accredited. Additionally, make sure that the department or degree you’re interested in is also accredited. For example, if you’re interested in becoming a nurse, you’ll want to look for a program that’s accredited by a nationally-recognized nursing agency, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Depending on the kind of college experience you’re looking for, the geography of your future school matters. If you’re looking for a pastoral, rural experience, you won’t want a school that’s in a city. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a college in Connecticut that’s close to New York and in an urban setting in its own right, you might lean towards a school like University of Bridgeport. It all depends on the kind of environment in which you want to spend the next four years of your life, and the type of environment in which you see yourself thriving.
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to know that your future college offers the degree program you’re interested in. Check out their list of majors and their course catalogue to make sure that your future school is a good fit for your academic goals.
Resources and Support Services
The transition from high school or the working world to college is rarely easy. It’s important that your future college provides excellent professional and academic support, just in case you need it. Look for a tutoring center that offers both peer tutoring and professional tutoring services. Make sure that your future college also has a good academic advising department. Academic advisors will help keep you on track, so that you graduate on time and in good academic standing.
Also, look for a school that has career development services. While many schools have career centers, very few offer comprehensive career planning assistance. A robust career development center will help you find internships, develop a career plan, and will even help you prepare for the post-college job search.
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Spending all of your time in the classroom can be limiting. Consider attending a university in Connecticut that offers hands-on or experiential learning opportunities. This can include internships, field placements, and even volunteer opportunities. After all, sometimes you learn best by doing.
A Diverse Student Body
Going to college is about a lot more than just the things you learn in the classroom. One of the many benefits of attending college is getting to meet fellow students from a variety of backgrounds. By meeting people with different perspectives, you’ll become a more well-rounded person with a more expansive world view. In other words, diversity is important. Additionally, if you’re a first generation student or a student of color, it’s important to find a university in Connecticut that is dedicated to diversity and inclusion. In a more diverse student population, you’re more likely to find the support you’ll need while attending school.
Schedule a Campus Visit
One of the best ways to find out if a college is a good fit for your needs is to go right to the source. A campus visit can give you some great insight into the learning environment of the school as well as the student experience. Many admissions offices have a peer-to-peer system in place that allows you to chat with current students and ask them questions about their experiences during your visit. During your visit, you’ll also have the opportunity to sit down with an admissions representative, who can give you information on how you can prepare for the application process. You can also set up a meeting with members of the academic departments you’re interested in, to learn how studying at that particular school can help you achieve your academic and career goals. You may also want to sign up for an information session or an admissions open house. These sessions provide prospective students with details about the academic programs they’re interested in, as well as information about financial aid. They’re also great venues to ask questions and hear the answers to fellow students’ questions. A campus visit can give you a sense of what a school can provide you and whether or not you’d enjoy attending classes there for the next four years, or so
If you’re interested in attending a college in Connecticut, there are many factors to consider. However, the choice will be easier if you know what you’re looking for. Remember, make a list of your “must-haves” in a school, and let that guide your path in finding the college or university that is best for you. To learn more about the University of Bridgeport and our degree offerings, do not hesitate to request more information online.