9 Non-Academic Things to Look for in a College

4. Location

Would you be willing to move halfway across the country for your dream school? If not, then location can be a deal-breaker. This is definitely something to keep in mind when choosing a school because for most high school seniors, your freshman year at college will be your first experience living away from home (and doing your own laundry!). You might want your mom’s cooking every weekend, or you might prefer to only go home for major holidays. For those of you who will be commuting, consider transportation costs and travel time. However, going to school out-of-state gives you the chance to have a living experience you’ve never tried.

The area surrounding your school is just as important. “I knew that I wanted to be in a big city where there would be lots to do off campus, whereas other students might prefer a smaller ‘college town,’” says Kelsey Pomeroy, a sophomore at The Ohio State University. “The college you choose is where you're going to spend the next four years, so you don't want to be stuck somewhere that isn't a good match for your personality!”

Research the areas surrounding your potential schools and consider the options for nearby off-campus activities, like going to the movies, the mall or even the grocery store.

5. Campus Size

The size of your campus will have an enormous effect on your college experience. On a large campus, strangers are everywhere (think of them as opportunities to make new friends!). A smaller campus might be more comfortable, however, if you prefer a space where you recognize people constantly. There are benefits and downsides to both, but depending on your background, the size of your high school and your comfort zone, you may prefer one to the other.

6. Clubs and Organizations

The amount and variety of clubs and organizations offered at your school can make a huge difference in what you do outside of class. Joining a club can help you discover a new passion, build your networking skills, gain experience in your field and even tackle leadership positions—all worthwhile to future employers. They can also be how you meet some of your best friends in college! You can join anything from the belly-dancing club to the kayaking club, so it’s important to find out if your potential school has organizations you’re interested in.