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3 Non-Academic Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

Fit is one of the most important factors when it comes to college admissions.

Applicants typically want to choose a school that can offer them the right academic program for their goals. But beyond the classroom, there are a number of non-academic factors that can make a college feel more like home, such as location and community.

US News recently highlighted key nonacademic factors that applicants should consider when assessing a college’s fit.


Every student has different needs when it comes to location. Some may prefer to be close to home while others may want to experience living in a different city. Another consideration when it comes to location? Political ideology.

“Some students are pretty adamant about states that they don’t want to be in and sometimes that has to deal with whether or not the state tends to lean more conservative or liberal,” Stacy Richardson, director of college counseling at the Potomac School in Virginia, says. “There are some students who are very adamant that they want to be in a southern school, some who really want to be in Florida, some who are good with Texas and then other students who say, ‘They are not interested in going that far south.’ I think location has a big impact on their decision and also setting.”


Community is one of the most important nonacademic factors to consider. For many students, college is a crucial time for meeting new people, exploring diverse perspectives, and growing both personally and intellectually.

“They don’t want to go to a place, unless they choose to, where everybody looks alike, everybody thinks alike and they leave with the same attributes that they entered with,” says Mary Banks, director of admissions consulting at Quad Education Group, an admissions consulting service, says.


Nearly 29% of students say that a safe campus environment was one of the reasons why they enrolled in their current college or university.

Experts say that while safety isn’t the top reason why students choose a college, it does play an important role in your four years there. More important, according to the survey, 61% of students believe a safe campus provides mental health support and 55% say it allows for freedom of expression.

“So do I feel comfortable expressing my identity, being myself on campus, being accepted and belonging?” Michael Koppenheffer, vice president of Enroll360 marketing and analytics at EAB, says. “Because of that, I would guess that the recent political unrest on campus is going to be something that, for some students, is going to affect their feeling of safety and it’s going to drive their decisions.”

Sources: US News, Expert Admissions, EAB

Next Page: Why Geography Matters More Than Ever In College Admissions

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