“Warm, welcoming, smart, and unpretentious– our university is filled with students who are driven to be the best they can be without striving to do so at the expense of others. They excel at allowing everyone to be comfortable with who they are, and not having to be a certain type of person in order to fit in.”
Does this describe the type of college environment you want to be in? Where do you fit in? Which statement below describes you the most?
I want a college where most of the students share my background and viewpoints.
I want a college where some students have viewpoints and experiences different from my own.
I want a college where many students have viewpoints and experiences which are unlike my own.
Using your answer, look for the following when researching colleges:
What is the mix of undergraduate geographic diversity? How many students are in–state? Out–of–state? International?
What is the racial/ethnic make-up of the student population? Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Black, Native American, White, other?
Where would you find students who share your spiritual beliefs/values? Colleges have Hillel for Jewish students, MSA for Muslim students, Institutes for LDS (Mormon) students, and worship opportunities or spiritual centers for many other students. Where will you find your group?
Is there Greek life? How many students join fraternities and sororities? Are there Greek houses on campus to live in? Or not?
Do students play sports? Varsity, club, or intramural? Are other recreation sports (biking, running, hiking, fitness classes) offered/available?
Do students share a common passion or commitment? Does the campus lean toward a particular political culture? Are there any unifying values that define the campus climate?
How is your living arranged? Do all freshmen live on campus? Are there special living/learning communities you can choose from, like sustainability, international studies, arts, engineering, etc.?
As you read about colleges, review their websites, and take virtual tours, be sure to ask these questions. Learn as much as you can about the student body of the college. After all, you will spend the next four years closely connected to the students in your classes and the community you in which you live.
GuidedPath offers a great way to look at the social life of a college.
Check out the Social Experience section of each college profile. What are the influential groups on campus? What is the international diversity? What events are popular on campus? Where do students hang out?
Review the Fiske Guide description (if available). How does it describe the student body? What is the Fiske social rating?
Search for schools where you would feel comfortable. In the Guided Search, you can search by undergraduate size, freshman and all students in housing, international student population, the Fiske Social and Quality of Life ratings.
View the ready-made lists. Looking for a school with a sizable Jewish population? Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)? There are social tagged lists for these categories.
Take Action Make notes in the Discussion section of each college about the social atmosphere. What do you like or not like? The ultimate question is, “Would I fit in here?” If the answer is a resounding YES then you should add it to your My Colleges list.