Are you attending a community college? Working on prerequisites or core classes with a plan to transfer to a university? You might not realize it yet, but your journey will likely differ greatly than that of a freshman. Additionally, there are factors that you will want to consider before submitting an application. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of the the Top 5 questions to ask when choosing a university.
- Does the university offer the major that you want to pursue? This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes students apply to universities with the assumption that they are all the same and offer the same programs. It’s important to look over the list of current majors on the university’s website or in their catalog.
- Does the faculty conduct research in your area of interest? Not only do you want to make sure that your major is offered, you want to make sure that the faculty that you’ll be learning from is conducting research in your area of interest. If they are, then you’ll likely have experiences that other students only read about. Most universities have a faculty database where you can see the type of research that the professors are currently working on and what they have done in the past.
- Does the university offer student organizations that you would like to join? Study after study confirms that students that are involved on campus are more likely to stay in school and graduate. This is true for transfer students, too. If a university has limited student organizations options, then you may find yourself feeling isolated from your peers. No one wants to stay where they feel like they aren’t wanted, so check online for student organizations.
- Does the university offer events that work with your schedule? If you’re a non-traditional student, then this question is very important. Like I said previously, students that are involved on campus are more likely to graduate. Whether you’re working full-time, a single parent, or not the traditional college age, etc., there should be something at your potential university that engages you, besides the courses. Completing a college degree includes more than just the coursework. It’s also a valuable life experience. No matter where you are in life you should be able to refer to your college experience as one of the best times in your life, and a university should be able to offer something for everyone.
Of course there are more than 5 questions that you could ask, but it’s important that you not overwhelm yourself with a series of “what ifs”, but concentrate on your academic goal(s) instead. Once you know what your goals are, then pairing yourself with a program at a university will be much easier.
- Big Future by College Board offers several articles on finding your college fit.
- How to Choose a College by Frank Bruni offers a familial view of the selection process.
- CollegeTransfer.net provides some helpful articles about transferring, too!
Soyla Santos, M.F.A. is an Academic Advisor III within the University Advising Center at UT Arlington. With over 10 years of higher education experience, Ms. Santos coordinates the Maverick Transfer Connection, an online community for new transfer students.