Academic Questions to Consider

There are many questions you should be asking yourself when trying determine what college is best for you, and academic-related questions are among the most important. You’ll be spending a lot of time in classrooms and/or labs, so you need to make sure that your college of choice will keep you engaged and best prepare you for your career after school. Keep reading for some important academic questions to consider.

What majors and minors are offered?
First, give some thought to what you might like to study in college and what you envision doing as a career. You by no means have to know exactly what you want to do, but having a general idea (are you interested in the Sciences? Arts? History? English?) can help you in your college choice decision by making sure you choose a school that has a solid academic program or programs that are of interest and use to you. If you really have no clear path or area of interest, a liberal arts program is probably the best option for you.

When do you have to declare a major or minor?
It’s also a good idea to look into when you have to declare a major or minor at each school – you may have a lot of time or not very much time at all to decide, which can be a very important consideration for you depending on how clear your interests and goals are.

Are there general education requirements? What are the requirements for specific majors and minors?
Each school varies in their academic requirements, so do some research in this area for each school you are considering and compare them to your interests and desires. For instance, are there specific classes that all students need to take either in their first or second year regardless of major? Is this something you’re okay with or totally against? What classes are required for each major and minor and do they sound interesting (or boring or way too hard)? Would you need to do lab work or a specific internship or project for a major or minor in which you’re interested? Find out the answers to these questions for each school to see which one matches your needs and wants best.

Is help available in choosing a major and minor?
This is especially important if you are unsure of what you want to study in college or do as a career. Will you have an academic advisor who will help you match your interests and goals to a major and/or minor? How accessible will this person be and for how long? Is there a career center at a school of interest? How helpful will they be in exploring different career options (and the majors/minors that go along with each option)? If there is a general curriculum, is it set up in a way that will allow you to explore multiple disciplines in your first (and even into your second) year to help you choose your specific area(s) of interest?

How rigorous are the academics at each school?
Think about how challenging your high school courses have been (or were) and how you’d like your college courses to be. More or less challenging than high school? It’s important to find a balance here – too rigorous a college can be just as bad as one that is not challenging enough. It is a good thing to stretch yourself academically, but it should be done thoughtfully. A good way to find out about the rigor of classes at each school is to reach out to professors and current students. They have first-hand knowledge of the ease or difficulty of classes, and, as an added bonus, this is also a good way to see how helpful professors and others are at each school.

How will I be supported academically?
Whether or not you have a learning disability, you will need (or definitely benefit from) academic support from time to time. More information on academic support can be found here, but overall, it’s important to find a school that has the supports you need (or may end up needing) to be successful.

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