Big school vs. small school, institution w/ undergrad research vs. you have to be a grad to do research, in-state vs. out-of-state, liberal arts vs. not, etc. + anything else you can think about!

When considering the colleges I wanted to go to, I had a lot to consider when choosing what school was right for me. The college search process is so fast-paced and it seemed to fly by, but I did a lot of soul-searching and doing research when cutting down to that one final school I wanted to go to. Here are some of the things I considered!

College Size

I am from a small town in southern Illinois called Galatia. Galatia only had a population of 950 and I was used to smaller class sizes. When searching for a college I looked at bigger schools, midsize schools, and smaller schools. Something just kept drawing me to those smaller schools. The thing that drew me was the community feel and the connections with professors that I could not get at a bigger school. Here at Valpo, I have one-on-one meetings with professors a lot, and I can talk to them about anything because they care about all of their students and want them to thrive anywhere they go. At big schools, in a class of 200 students, I felt my professors might not even know who I was. As a meteorology major, that would have made things very hard for me if I didn’t understand a topic in class.

When do you start taking classes within your major? 

I also looked at when I would get to start classes in my major, and that played a major role in my decision. At Valpo, I got to start my meteorology classes in the first semester of my freshman year. At most schools I looked at, I wouldn’t have been able to start meteorology classes until after I took all of my general education classes – and that could be up until junior year! Getting classes in your major earlier gives you a leg up on others when applying for internships and jobs because you have more experience in your specialty by then!

In-State vs. Out-of-State

A lot of students consider in-state vs. out-of-state schools when applying, especially due to the difference in costs. I really wanted to go out of state because I personally wanted to explore and learn more about living on my own and being away from home. However, the cost was a big factor when choosing schools, and one great thing about Valpo is that in-state and out-of-state tuition is the same, so I didn’t have to pay extra since I was from Illinois! Several of my friends grew up right here in Northwest Indiana and they say how they’ve loved staying in the area because being on campus feels like a completely different experience than they had growing up here. So no matter what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you’ll find it at Valpo!

Involvement Opportunities on Campus

I personally wanted to get involved with a lot of student organizations in college, and I wanted a school with opportunities to grow into leadership roles in those organizations. At Valpo, with over 100 student organizations at our Welcome Week Activities Fair, I found the right organizations for me! I’ve gone on to take on leadership positions in them and it has helped me grow in so many ways. From being a part of my fraternity to helping raise money for a local children’s hospital with Dance Marathon, I have had the best experiences, and the most amazing memories have been made because of my involvement in clubs and organizations on campus. If you don’t want to get as involved in clubs, there are so many other great ways to create a community on campus through residential life or commuter groups, faith life, connecting with others in your major, your Christ College cohort if you join that, volunteer opportunities, and so many more!

No matter what you are looking for in a college, these are great topics to think about when narrowing down your list. All in all, Valpo offered me a community that I felt comfortable in, smaller class sizes and connections with professors, a head start on classes within my major, a cheaper cost to go to school after considering financial aid, and a place to get involved!