Choosing A College That’s As Well Rounded As You Are!

When families begin to research colleges many put the emphasis on the educational factors like major selections, class availabilities and the backgrounds of the professors teaching their chosen major. However, although you are there to get an education, there are many other areas of college that are essential, not only to your success, but to your comfort—especially living away from home at 18 years old. You should never neglect these areas when researching schools and taking tours!

First is the cafeteria. This area is often a common complaint for students, but usually it’s just because they miss their home cooked meals! But the important thing to do when visiting colleges is to take time to sample the food. Also, ask your tour guide or someone in the administration office for information if you have a food allergy. Make sure that they provide daily vegetarian meals, or low carbohydrate options if you are diabetic.

Another important facet of the meal plan is making sure it will work not only with your schedule but also with your lifestyle. For example, many colleges offer an option for a late-night meal. This usually includes snack foods served between 9 pm and midnight. If you are a night owl or taking night classes, this would be a great option to add!

Next, check out the health center. The health center is usually equipped with a registered nurse and will be the place you visit if you become ill. Take a moment and speak with the nurse. See what services they can offer and the hours of operation. Many nurses can supply you with antibiotics for simple infections such as strep throat or urinary tract infections; but it is important to ask, because if you are ill and they cannot assist you, it is important to either find a doctor in the area or know where the nearest hospital is. If you are not allowed to have a car, is there transportation to either of these facilities?

Staying in the health realm, it is also important to check out the fitness center—especially if you enjoy working out. Make sure there’s plenty of up-to-date equipment so you can catch a quick workout before or after class without a long wait.

Then take time to check out the bookstore and library. These facilities may become your best friends. The bookstore should be fully stocked not only with books but with personnel. Some colleges let the bookstore fall a little to the wayside and it can cause major issues come new semester time. Long waits and inadequate stock can make you late and unprepared for your classes—sometimes as much as two weeks!

Many people don’t even consider the library a source for information anymore with the advent of the Internet; but the truth is, many professors will have you search the library for term or research papers. Professors still want you to be able to do old-fashioned research and while you’re in college you should take advantage and leave your computer behind every once in a while! The library can also serve as a quiet study spot if your roommate has company or there is a party on your floor!

Lastly, student activities can play a huge part in your college experience. Take note of what kinds of activities are planned throughout the year, including spring fling carnivals, talent shows, film festivals, etc. Look for activities that not only interest you but also will allow you to experience new things and meet new
people. Then it is important to see if there is a waiting list to join popular clubs or activities. Often the student newspaper or college radio station are favorites among students and may be restricted to upperclassmen. Speaking to a college representative will help you know when the average student is able to participate. For example, at a smaller school you might be able to hop on board your freshman year!

These are just some of the things you’ll want to take into consideration before deciding upon a college that is right for you. You are making a huge financial investment and you must be sure that you are getting your money’s worth. Home is where the heart is, and let’s face it: this is your home away from home now! Make sure your heart is fully in it!

Copyright © 2011 Complete College Planning Solutions, LLC  -  500 Morris Ave., Suite 205, Springfield, NJ 07081
Ian R. Welham, Certified College Planning Advisor  -  Tel: 973.467.0101