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Considering College Life and Campus Housing When Choosing a School

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One of the best things about college life is exploring your interests, even if they have nothing to do with your major. Are you a sports nut, a club crawler, or a recluse? Some schools are touted as "party schools" or "football factories" and that may help you to draw some conclusions about the types of activities and personalities you'll encounter there. Others cater to the arts and offer frequent plays and concerts. Several schools are even outdoor-oriented, offering you the chance to go hiking, snowboarding, and rock-climbing.

There are many programs that are unique to only one or a few schools. Every campus will have some that appeal to you. So try to find a school that not only fulfills your academic goals, but offers opportunities to pursue your personal ones, too. A well-rounded and fulfilling student life is a great way to ensure your success.

College life may involve many forms of athletics

Most schools have organized sports teams for both men and women and the range of these may vary, depending on the school. (If you make the team, academic eligibility to play must be maintained.) There are also many intramural options available at most schools. Requiring no tryouts or minimum grades, teams are often organized by dorms or clubs, and can include anything from water polo to bowling leagues.

If you aren't playing, but want to be involved in this aspect of college life, other activities related to athletics exist as well, such as cheerleading or the college band — or perhaps you just want to be a spectator caught up in the roaring crowd. Whatever your preference, check and see if your choice schools have athletic activities that interest you.

Clubs are an active part of student life

Most colleges have hundreds of clubs and activities — far too many to list here. However, some are pretty standard, such as a newspaper, a drama club, a radio station, and a band. What other choices exist? A good way to find out is to check the college paper and bulletin boards when you visit campus. You'll be able to get a sense of what activities exist and get a better feel for the type of campus culture you can expect.

Greek life may be a part of the culture

Fraternities and sororities aren't for everyone, but they can be a great way to meet people, and to network after graduation. Whether you plan to pledge or not, you may want to explore the culture of the Greek life at the schools you're considering.

Do the sororities and fraternities play a prominent role or is the school large enough that the Greek system is just a part of the varied school population? Do they have a good reputation or a bad one? Do they have a large role in college housing? For many people, being part of a fraternity or sorority leaves priceless memories and friendships that last a lifetime.

College life often includes activities and special programs

Many schools take pride in their student activity centers as they are often the hub of social and cultural events on campus. Student centers often have snack bars, game rooms, workout facilities, full-scale restaurants, auditoriums, coffee shops, bike shops, and a wide array of other services. If you take a campus tour, make sure you check it out. It will be a good indicator of student life, as some are far more elaborate and student-friendly than others.

Campus housing often provides social interaction

When considering a college's social life and activities, it's important to think about where you will live as well. Living in college housing is a great way to meet new people and start friendships. Because dorms are one of the most common campus housing options for freshman, they often host group activities or events that allow students to get to know one another or get involved with the rest of the campus.

College atmosphere should meet your needs
Whatever your interests, don't hesitate to think about the social climate of your school. Be cautious though, and don't let a reputation steer you away from what may be a great place for you. Not everyone in the dorm is there to party and not everyone goes to football games. Your best bet is to visit each college that you are seriously considering before finalizing your decision.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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