3 New Criteria for Your College List

While dorm life and course offerings are important, there are a few new things to consider when finding colleges that might work for you.

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik | August 13, 2014

There are some questions that will withstand the test of time when it comes to seeking the perfect college for a new student to attend. "What are the dorms like?" "Will I like the cafeteria food?" "Does the school have the major I’m considering?"

Every year there are new things students consider about college and 2014 is no exception. Here we address the top three questions students will be asking this coming year. So take a look and see if you should be considering these new ways to search for colleges.

Now more than ever, students are seeking education at community colleges as a result of the economic downturn.

Is the school eco-friendly?

Today's youth has grown up in a culture where people tote reusable bags to the grocery store and spout off statistics about "green" products, vehicles, and energy-efficiencies. So, it should come as no surprise that soon-to-be college students are also seeking green higher education opportunities when it comes to choosing their schools.

The Princeton Review has launched a Guide to Green Colleges which includes tips for questions a student should ask when visiting a university or college, such as "How much food is fresh, local and organic?" and "What opportunities do you have for me to get involved in university decisions affecting my quality of life?"

Does the school welcome transfers?

Now more than ever, students are seeking education at community colleges as a result of the economic downturn. While many will fulfill their education requirements within the school, others will seek to transfer to a traditional university or college upon fulfilling their core course requirements at a community college (and, therefore, spending less on basic credits).

If a student is considering fulfilling his or her education in this way, then there are two questions that should be addressed: Does the community college offer help in facilitating the transfer process to another school? And does the traditional four-year university or college the student is considering also help make that transition an easy one?

"Many times, the coordination of transferring from two-year to four-year college is left up to the student," said Dr. Russell Hyken, author of "The Parent Playbook". "Community and four-year colleges need to educate students about what classes to take and what will be needed for a potential major upon enrollment. This should, in fact, be coordinated with both colleges.

"If a student knows that they are headed to a four-year college upon community college enrollment, this process should start with the initial class selection." Hyken pointed to Oregon State University in Bend, OR, as a prime example of how a community college and four-year university can work together to make the transfer process easier for students.

"Students can attend the community college which is located on the same campus as the four-year university," he said. "This blending normalizes the process of transferring. It also provides the community college student with university resources, such as learning centers, athletic facilities and libraries."

Does the school meet the needs of adult students?

The new year's ever-changing job front will continue to produce an increasing need for the average working adult to return to higher education as a means to improve upon skills and technology that is necessary to today's jobs.

"Students who are attending higher education at an older age are often times more focused on their career path and goals," said VA Hayman-Barber, Director of Experiential Education & Career Services Johnson and Wales University. "Students pursuing education after working in industry can take their experiences and apply them to the classroom, while also update their technical skills in the changing workplace."

If a student is seeking to attend college as a means for updating his or her current expertise, or simply because he or she is seeking to attend school after not doing so immediately after graduating from high school, then it is important to ask questions about how a prospective college facilitates the needs of adult learners.

For example, does it have night or weekend classes for students who work throughout the weekdays? In addition, does the school provide childcare or the ability to attend some classes online?

It is important to meet with an admissions counselor and address all of these questions in order to find a school that will best cater to an adult student’s needs.

Like any new year, 2013 is bound to bring many changes on the higher education forefront, but with the right preparation, college and university applicants can feel better prepared –– and less stressed –– about the journey that lies ahead.

Quick Tips

  • Discover "green" opportunities at your school by seeking local farmers' markets and all-natural grocery stores.
  • Learn more about how your school of choice works with transfers by chatting with other students who have already completed the process.
* Adult students typically come to school with a very specific goal in mind, but that doesn't mean there won't be questions. Be sure to make a list of yours.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

How to Start Your College Search
3 Helpful College Search Resources
What Are the Greenest College Campuses?
Top Transfer Colleges
Universities For Adult Students

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