What's Important to You in a College?

These questions can help students as they begin the college search, including what are my post-secondary goals, what academic opportunities are important to me, what careers interest me, what learning environment fits me best, and what off-campus, extracurricular, and social opportunities am I interested in pursuing?
Teenage girl researching colleges on a laptop

Is a student you know beginning the college search? As high school sophomores and juniors start exploring options for their future, it's helpful to have them answer some basic questions about their own character traits, preferences, and goals for the future. As student learn more about what they want in a school, and how they envision their college career to look, they can better determine the schools that fit them best. The questions below can help students begin reflecting on their own interests and goals for higher education. Encourage the students in your life to review the list and start the reflection process.

Questions to ask yourself as you begin the college search:

  • What are my post-secondary goals? Do you want a two-year or four-year degree? Are you really just looking for a technical skill?
  • What academic opportunities are important to me? Is there a specific field of study that catches your attention? Do you want to study abroad? How important are internships or co-ops to your academic plan?
  • What careers interest me? Are their certain job fields you hope to pursue? Is there a specific major or academic program that would help you get your dream job?
  • What learning environment fits me best? Would you learn well in a big lecture hall with hundreds of other students, most common at big universities? Or do you need a small classroom setting to take in information, found more often at small schools?
  • What off-campus opportunities are important to me? Do you want to experience the culture of a big city during your time at school? Is outdoor recreation a passion of yours? How much will you seek out volunteer opportunities?
  • What extracurricular and social opportunities am I interested in pursuing? Are you interested in Greek life? Do you envision playing a lot of intramural sports? Are there certain clubs or activities, such as singing groups or religious organizations, that you hope to join?
  • What other aspects of a college are important to me? How diverse of a student body do you hope to be a part of? How far do you want to be from home? Do you hate (or love) a certain kind of weather?

In addition to these questions, the online college and career planning tool MEFA Pathway can help students discover different colleges and universities. Within the portal, students can use the interactive Match Me tool to find schools that fit their preferences. They can fine tune their list further by adding in a range for GPA and test scores, and a preference on tuition cost. Students can easily register for a free MEFA Pathway account at

Visit MEFA Pathway