Your teenager’s going to be living at the college he chooses for (at least) four years.
He’s really got to feel comfortable and happy at this place.
While the academic side of things is so important, don’t discount the social aspect of college life – it’s just as essential to consider this for a student to thrive in school.
Let’s talk about three main things to take into consideration when it comes to the social environment that’s best for your teen:
The size of a campus and the number of students who attend greatly influences a college’s ambiance and the experience your teen will have.
Smaller campuses feel like a small town, where your teen will consistently see people he knows – like a tight community. The options for activities on campus to participate in may be few, but there’s a strong sense of connection between those involved due to the smaller size.
Larger campuses with a large student body are more city-like. There are many more students, and most people your teen will pass on campus won’t be familiar. Larger colleges offer more sports programs and student activities to get involved in, and tend to have more housing opportunities, as well.
Depending on your teen’s personality, he’ll likely find comfort in one option over the other, so it’s an important consideration in choosing the right college fit.
Most colleges will require that first-year students live on campus to help build a sense of community and encourage them to do well academically.
Dorms (or residence halls) are the most popular option for students. They’re really conveniently close to campus amenities and classes. Living in the same building as other students will allow your teen to socialize a bunch with his roommate and other residents.
Make sure you’re teen knows, too, that living in a dorm will be an adjustment from home – loud and sometimes crowded hallways don’t make sleep and studying easy sometimes. And while roommates are typically matched based on similar profiles, there’s the potential for a roommates to be incompatible.
University housing may be an alternative to living in dorms, depending on the school. They are often multi-bedroom apartments and are more spacious and quiet.
Sorority and fraternity houses are another great option for living on campus. They lend themselves to more space but still maintain a sense of community for students with their fellow sisters or brothers.
Another option, of course, is living at home if the school is in the local area. This comes with an extra commute to campus, but sometimes nothing beats having your own room. Not to mention less in living expenses.
No matter the type of housing, they’re not all created equal at different colleges, so it’ll be important for your teen to do research into each college’s options to be sure it’s right for him.
A major social part of the college environment lies in the activities that your teen chooses to participate in outside of classes.
If your teenager is heavily engaged in an activity like dance, language clubs, rock climbing, athletics…ANYTHING outside of high school classes right now, it would likely be wise to research colleges that have the same types of opportunities.
And even if your teen isn’t sure about what types of activities may be intriguing in college, have him take a look at what colleges offer. There are college extracurriculars for virtually every interest your teen can imagine, or may have never imagined even existed.
Download The College Fit Toolkit workbook for your teen. It’ll take him through questions to help uncover personal preferences prior to diving into the college search.
We’ve been talking about finding the best college match for a few weeks now, so don’t miss these posts:
1| What Parents Need to Know about Finding the Perfect College Match
2| Finding the Best College Match – Mindset
3| Finding the Best College Match – Location
4| Finding the Best College Match – Academics
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