What Kind of Information Is Important When Comparing Colleges?

When choosing a college, programs offered, cost, location and other factors might help to narrow your options. You might also want to consider what type of institution you'd like to attend and the school's reputation. Learn more about what kind of college information is important when comparing colleges in the following article.

Assessing Your Needs

Students should determine their individual needs before comparing colleges. This helps them narrow their field of study and identify other needs. These needs can be compared with any limitations, including financial limitations or a need to stay in a particular geographic location. Students should also decide if and how important sports teams, extra-curricular activities, campus life and other factors are. College information can be found on education search websites, such as the National Center for Educational Statistics' College Navigator (nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/).

Important Facts about Colleges

Common Programs OfferedAssociate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees
Online AvailabilityMany institutions offer fully-online programs and hybrid programs with a mixture of online and campus classes
Admission RequirementsTypically requires only a high school diploma or GED
Other Types of Colleges Vocational and technical, community, religious, military

Type of College and Programs Offered

Students should consider the level of degree they'd like to earn and whether they plan to pursue graduate studies. Those interested in a particular field of study should search for colleges offering programs in that area. Students might also consider whether they prefer a public or private school, if campus housing is available, the school's religious affiliation or available extended learning opportunities.

Location and Cost

Some students may prefer to remain close to their current residence, while others might prefer to relocate and/or live in campus housing. Tuition rates at colleges vary widely. Students should have a clear understanding of tuition and fees when comparing colleges. They may also want to consider financial aid, scholarship and work-study opportunities.

Accreditation or Reputation

According to the U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid program (www.studentaid.ed.gov), accreditation certifies that a college's programs meet certain quality standards. Often, only students at accredited schools are eligible for financial aid, and credits from a non-accredited institution might not transfer between schools. If a school has no accreditation, the student should carefully investigate its reputation and if it is endorsed by any reputable professional organizations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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