How to Find a College That Works For You (Socially)

More than a third of college students transfer before graduating. One of the primary reasons students transfer is because of social circumstances. Find out below what circumstances may push students to transfer.

It’s your senior year of high school. Your college acceptance letters have just finished coming in and now it’s time to make a decision. You’re probably considering factors like school ranking, location, cost, and where family members went to school. Believe it or not, college has many other factors. Some of these factors are inconsequential, others can make or break your college experience or push you to transfer.

How big is the school?

Believe it or not, your experience in college will be affected by the size of your school. In terms of size, colleges are divided into three different categories: small, mid-size, and large. The size of the school does more than affect how much you have to walk. It affects what activities take place on campus, the surrounding area, and what resources are provided to you. If you pick a large school, you may have to fight thousands of people for a study room, classes, and resources. Life at a large school is very fast-paced and keeping up with it can be very exhausting. On the other end of the spectrum, a small school has more of a sleepy feel and it’s easier to find and get what you need.

What is the school’s culture?

A school’s culture is the set of norms, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols, and stories that make up the “face” of the school. Depending on what your personality is, a school’s culture can be very healthy or very toxic. I go to JMU which has the reputation of friendliness, conscience, happiness, and a rich social life. Meanwhile, an Ivy League, such as Harvard, has the reputation of having pretentious leanings, being academically focused, and leaning towards a liberal way of thinking. No one culture is better than the other in an objective sense but they can make you miserable if you don’t fit in.

What is the surrounding area like?

Just like schools vary in size and shape, the surrounding area also varies in size and shape. Rural colleges, like Bucknell University, have a surrounding area that is more “sleepy” and slow-paced. Because of this, there is less of a focus on “going out” and more of a focus on on-campus events. Academically, this rural setting gives colleges an agricultural focus when it comes to science and engineering. These rural colleges often provide transportation to nearby small towns where students can go to shop for basic necessities.

Suburban colleges, like James Madison University, can be in small towns, large towns, or residential areas by large cities. This environment, like rural areas, causes the campus to be more self-contained. However, there is more of an emphasis on going out because these “college towns” tend to have bars and plenty of dining alternatives. There is also more off-campus housing which can nourish a college’s party culture. Suburban colleges also have a strong bond to the town they’re located in, meaning student discounts, job opportunities, and a good public transportation system.

Urban colleges, like Boston University, can either be self-contained or spread out through the city. Public transportation is mainly used by the city’s residents but the college can either provide specialized transportation or passes. Since these colleges are located in an urban environment, there are plenty of companies that students can work for or intern for. Also, there are many off-campus activities that students can take part in like bars and clubs, museums and plays, and concerts and movies. These types of colleges tend to be more diverse.

These are three huge factors that can affect your college experience. If you really want to have a good time, you need to consider them as seriously as you would other aspects.