For today’s Back-to-School blog post, I’m talking about a few things you should consider when choosing a college/university and why I chose the University of Denver (DU) to call home for the past three years. Deciding on what school to attend after high school is a daunting task, and I know for me, it was the first ‘big’ decision I ever had to make. Ultimately, visiting campus and touring DU (not once, but twice) helped me realize that the school just felt right, though it was a culmination of all the following factors that has made me so happy in my choice of college.
Disclaimer: I don’t really touch on price in this blog post. School is so freaking expensive, and the cost of attendance and amount of scholarships available are almost always the top priority when choosing a school. Furthermore, price is something you have very little control over. The factors I discuss below are to help narrow your selection after you have determined what is financially feasible—they are additional factors that can help you find the right academic and social fit within your budget.
One of the biggest factors that led me to the University of Denver was its size. DU has around 6,000 undergrads and 11,000 students total. After spending time visiting both of my brothers’ college campuses—one a large state school, the other a small liberal arts school—it was really important for me to find something in the middle. I wanted a college that was big enough so I didn’t know every single person, yet still small enough where I could get to know and interact with my professors.
I think a lot of the decision around size depends on your learning style. If you learn best when you can seek one-on-one help from the professor, then a smaller school is optimal. But if you do just fine on your own—and prefer lectures over class discussion (or just don’t ever want to be called on when the professor asks a question)—a larger school, with hundreds of people per class, might be good. You also want to ask yourself what kind of resources and research interests you. Bigger schools often have really cool research projects or more resources than smaller schools, but the tradeoff is that professors’ primary focus might be pursuing that research (rather than actually teaching).
Another huge factor when choosing a school is the location. How far away is your school from home? Would you prefer to get some distance from your parents, or do you still want to visit sometimes? Can you afford out-of-state tuition? How expensive will it be to travel back and forth during holidays? Additionally, how difficult is it to get to your campus (is it in the middle of nowhere)? What is the cost of living? These are all important and practical questions to ask yourself when deciding on a location.
Of course, there are also the fun questions: What activities and events are there to do in this location? Is it a college town or a big city? Are there exciting things to do/places to eat within walking distance from campus (if you don’t have a car)?
The first time I toured DU was junior year of high school. The campus was pretty, but I did not like Denver—I immediately crossed the school off my list. But then, as I toured more schools my senior year, I realized I liked those schools even less than DU. I decided to give Denver another try, and the second time I visited, I loved it. Initially, I didn’t want to go to school in a proper city, which is why Denver wasn’t very appealing the first time around. However, on my second visit, I spent more time around campus (instead of downtown) and grew to enjoy the neighborhood vibes. Not to mention, Colorado in and of itself has so much to offer! I have had so many amazing experiences in Denver and around the state that I couldn’t have had if I went to a small college town. Plus, as it turns out, I hardly get off campus anyway—the big city doesn’t seem so big when you stay in your own little bubble.
Going hand-in-hand with location is safety. I think spending so much time in downtown Denver that first visit was off-putting to me because I didn’t think I would feel safe there by myself. However, on campus is a very different experience, and while I generally avoid walking around at night, I do feel very comfortable on campus.
Another important factor in my decision-making process was the people. My second choice school was the University of Utah, and while the school had a lot to offer, SO many people from my high school went there. By the time I graduated high school, I was sick of the same old peers and was most excited to meet interesting strangers. U of U lost a lot of its appeal because I thought it would feel like high school all over again. Ultimately, I was the only person from my high school who chose the University of Denver—in fact, I didn’t know a single person when I got there, and I loved that!
Another consideration regarding people is whether or not you have family nearby. My aunt and uncle, two cousins, and my grandma live in Denver. It didn’t seem that important at the time I was making my decision—more like a bonus—but having family close by has turned out to be one of the highlights of my college experience. Not only was it super comforting to have family during those homesick freshman days and even during the pandemic craziness, but it has also just been so much fun to have built-in friends with whom to spend holidays, go to dinner, etc.
And that’s a wrap!—Lots of things to consider when choosing a university. Most of the time, I’m definitely a pro-con list type of person, but deciding on a college became easy after visiting DU that second trip—it was the feeling of being there on campus and knowing that it just felt right, as cheesy as it sounds. Also! It’s important to note that I didn’t mention anything about majors/areas of study… I am sort of an unusual case because I entered college having absolutely zero idea of what I wanted to study. All I knew was that I desperately wanted to study abroad, and DU (supposedly) has a great study abroad program (if you’ve been following for a while, you know the pandemic has wreaked havoc on my study abroad plans several times now—fingers crossed that I’ll be able to go this spring).
Anyway, because I was undeclared, the program offerings didn’t matter that much to me so long as the university had a large selection. Obviously, students who know what they want to study going into college will approach the decision-making process differently.
Lastly, isn’t this outfit so cute for back-to-school season? I actually purchased this top at the DU bookstore freshman year after winning a gift card in a scavenger hunt (the shirt has our school’s logo embroidered on the bottom). I also just purchased this denim skirt, which fits perfectly, but is unfortunately almost entirely sold out. Usually I have a hard time finding skirts that fit properly in the waist—curves, ya know?—but this American Eagle skirt has just the right amount of stretch that it fits in my butt AND in my waist. Amazing. It’s from the curvy line and I am now wondering if I should have been buying curvy things all along… I don’t feel like I have a big enough butt for that though, lol.
Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Be sure to add your recent posts above to this week’s link-up, and have a great weekend.