When it comes to finding the right college, a lot of factors play into determining whether a school is the right fit for you. Location, finances and size are some of the biggest considerations. But even if all the practical pieces fall into place, you should still consider factors that make the university you choose stand out.
That starts with researching the school’s majors and the academic department in which you want to study. It’s a huge part of how and where you’ll spend your time. Here are a few questions to help you think through your options.
What are the professors doing?
Look into the kind of research the professors have completed and the professional and academic projects they’re working on. Do their interests align with your own? Also see if they’re working with students on those projects. Will you be mentored and have the opportunity to build your resume with relevant projects? Take a minute to study the courses and see if you’d be interested in completing that kind of work or if you find different classes in different majors more interesting.
Does the program feel relevant and current?
You want to feel at home in your major and with your professors, but you also want to know you’ll be challenged and exposed to new opportunities within your field. It’s worth the time to do some thinking about this now so you can commit to studying it for your undergraduate years.
What types of out-of-classroom experiences are available?
I knew that I wanted to study English, and that played a big role in narrowing down my choice of schools. I looked into the different programs to see the kind of work students were doing, such as research, internships and extracurricular activities. When I found that St. Edward’s really emphasized out-of-classroom experiences and encouraged student writers to travel and take on experiences at local magazines and newspapers, I knew the program would be a good fit. I saw I could grow and learn a lot.
What if I don’t know what I want to study?
Of course, it is also perfectly normal not to know your major before entering college or even to switch majors halfway through college. In that case, you can still do your research, and use it as an opportunity to sift through programs, majors and departments to find your niche: What clicks or fits just right with you?
Laura Irwin is a Writing and Rhetoric major at St. Edward’s University.