Every college has its own "feel" or "personality." But where does that come from? Mostly, it comes from the students.
What's the one thing most college-seekers notice when they walk onto a campus for the first time? It's not the buildings or surroundings. It's the students. Being comfortable with the people and atmosphere on campus will help you feel at home.
Think About the Lifestyle You Want
How you want to spend your time should guide you in choosing a student culture. Students at one college might have a reputation for partying, while students at another might spend more time in intellectual activities. Some colleges may be known for student activism, the creative arts, or studying abroad. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Reflect on What You Want to Do Outside Class
At some colleges, the majority of students are involved in particular activities, such as sporting events, sororities and fraternities, or community service. This can strongly impact campus life for everyone. If one type of activity dominates the campus, are you as excited about it as the other students? While one of the pleasures of college is getting to know people with interests different from yours, think twice about a college where the dominate interests are not a good match for you.
Decide Who You Want Around You in Class
On the academic side, your fellow students should be stimulating but not over your head—unless you prefer a competitive academic environment. If the academic level of other students is below yours, that can be equally frustrating.
Living and studying with people from different backgrounds can be fascinating and exciting. For many students, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of their undergraduate experience. On the other hand, associating with like-minded people may help you launch your college years with much-needed support and friendship. What balance is right for you?
Road Test Your People Preferences
Visit campuses and hang out in places where students gather. Do you feel relaxed and stimulated by your experience? That's good. If you feel uncomfortable or bored, not so much.
- Take a look at Get the Most from College Visits for ideas on how to assess the social side of a campus.
- Can't visit campuses? Learn how to research student culture without visiting.
- Review data about diversity, clubs, Greek life, sports teams, and much more on our College Profiles. Just look up any college using College Match and go to the Students tab.