How to choose the right school

April 24, 2013

These days, prospective students have a wide range of colleges and universities to choose from in the upper education scene. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2009-2010 academic year, 6,742 postsecondary Title IV institutions were operating in the U.S. With so many schools to choose from, prospective students with grants for education can make their decisions based on everything from a school's price to its politics.

School culture
Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, recently reviewed important college choice decision points in a Huffington Post blog. Roth acknowledged that cost often sways the decision process for incoming students. If these individuals garner comparable levels of financial aid for college from a selection of schools, they must then choose which establishment from this pool is best for them.

Though prospective students might consider a range of criteria, from the size to the location of the school, they should ultimately base their decisions on the personality of the institutions, according to Roth. The best way to get this overall feel is by visiting the campus. Even for class members who won't live at school, seeing the student body - the actual culture of the establishment - will indicate if the college or university fits them. Roth notes that becoming a part of this environment, especially when the campus is intellectually stimulating, creates energy in students.

School ideology
Some students entering the college scene might also base their decisions on a school's political and ethical profile. If mothers feel strongly about the environment, for example, they may want to look at schools with a focus on green construction and sustainable practices.

The Princeton Review recently unveiled its 2013 Green Honor Roll, recognizing the environmental awareness of certain upper education institutions. Many colleges on the list have increased sustainable practices by offering organic food in dining halls and investing in energy-efficient building design, according to a USA Today article. Schools that made the list included Harvard University, Arizona State University and Green Mountain College.

"We want to educate future leaders of the world and use our campus to create role models who will encourage others to live sustainably too," said Heather Henriksen, director of Harvard University's Office for Sustainability said, according to USA Today.

If students entering college are eco-conscious, they might consider schools on the Green Honor Roll. As long as they feel connected to the establishments they choose, though, incoming attendees will likely thrive.

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