There are many things to consider when looking for a college or trade school. The most apparent being cost, location, and reputability. But what are some of those other less obvious but equally important areas to look for in schools? Have you thought to look at their course catalog? How about their activities and programs? Have you thought about contacting any of their support services? Did you even know a lot of this information is available to the public?

Applying and choosing a school is a big commitment, especially if you decide to go straight to a four-year university. So get the most out of your school! Start researching what they have to offer you besides your degree or certificate at the end of the road.


So, you’ve decided your path (or are at least trying to decide between a few) and are ready to start looking at schools. Great! Do you know what classes you’re required to take? For any two- or four-year degree, you have to complete general education requirements in areas such as critical thinking and communication, math and science, art and humanities, social sciences, and life-long learning. These aren’t necessarily set classes. Instead, you will have a variety of classes that will satisfy these requirements. You can choose the ones that you think will suit your needs best.

When looking into your major or trade, take a look at the core classes required. Most schools provide major sheets which map out which courses are required to complete a degree or certificate program. This will give you a good idea of what to expect from your educational journey.

I also recommend researching the professors that teach these classes to see if their teaching style suits your needs. In addition, student-based rating sites like Rate My Professor give others an idea of what the workload looks like and lecture styles and communication. Sometimes, choices will be limited, but you will have time to prepare yourself for what lies ahead with tools like these.

Campus programs/activities

Stimulating your mind outside of class is just as important as it is in class. When researching your potential school, search through the on and off-campus activities and amenities. Most schools will have a list of available activities and amenities on their campus for their students. You can always ask to schedule a tour of the campus to see those services for yourself. Now that we live in a world of social media, there are other resources online to see and speak with students in lots of different activities and social clubs. Ivywise lists a variety of ways social media can help you research your potential schools to see what daily life is like on campus from a student perspective.

Support services

Support services are some of the most essential features on campus. Your counselors will be the ones to help you map out your college experience and help you evaluate your workload. Does your school have a career center or employment services? If you are undecided, do the advisors have special programs to help students choose the right path for them? I have personally found student-led programs, such as success centers or tutoring centers, to be the most helpful. These programs give other students a unique student-based perspective of techniques that helped them succeed in their classes.

Your Unique Needs

Everyone has different needs, and some people might need more support than others. Now, a unique tool is available to help you create your path based on your interests and strengths. Our SELC (Social-Emotional Learning Competence) Report enables you to find appropriate fields for your individual needs. It will also help you determine areas that are challenging and areas where you may need additional support. Knowing this information with a combination of what the schools are currently offering will help you determine the best fit for you.


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