Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions about your future that you will make. That can be intimidating, but if you ask the right questions up front, you can be sure you're arriving at the right answer.
make the right choice for you
What do you want to do after you graduate? The answer to this question is going to be different for everyone, obviously. And that's okay! If you're currently making that choice for yourself, we have some advice that we think will help you choose the right college for you. You can compare different higher education institutions to stocks you’d invest in. This makes sense, since your education is a literal financial investment, as well as a metaphorical investment in yourself and your future. In order to gain the most from your educational experience, you need to make a smart investment, and smart investments vary depending upon what you want to get out of them. Here are five questions you need to ask when choosing the right educational investment for you.

1. What are you looking to gain from this experience?

What is your purpose for attending college in the first place? Plan out what skills and career-related knowledge you wish to gain from your college experience. This means that in addition to the cost, energy, and time considerations of a college degree, you should make sure the college you choose aligns with your goals.  After all, opting for a less expensive college in order to save money isn't a good decision if it doesn’t satisfy your personal or professional needs. Similarly, if you decide to enroll in a costlier institution for the name value, will they have degrees that are relevant to your field? If they don't, the name recognition won't mean much to hiring managers, and you are not making a wise investment. Each of these considerations must be made together, not separately.

2. Do they have the degree program you want to pursue?

For undergraduate students, decisions about which majors to pursue may change a few times, but the more you know about your personal and career goals going in, the better equipped you will be to choose the college that's right for you. Speak to the school's Enrollment Counselors to get an idea of what you can do with your degree once you earn it. Let them know what you're hoping to accomplish, and have them help you decide the best way forward. (If you do need a little more advice on choosing your major, we've got you covered.) Accreditation and academic quality should also be big factors to consider when choosing a school. Accreditation is awarded to institutes of higher learning by an independent, external group of auditors who confirm that the college in question keeps the promises it makes to students.

Essentially, accreditation ensures that you're getting the learning experience you expect.

CSU Global is a regionally accredited school, meaning it has been comprehensively reviewed to ensure a consistent standard of quality for higher education institutions. Regional accreditation standards require that up to one-third of a degree program’s curriculum includes general education courses in social sciences, natural, sciences, physical sciences, English, math, humanities, and art. Many institutions will only accept transfer credits from regionally accredited schools. This is because they know they can count on the education students have gotten from those schools, and they rely on the assurance of academic quality. Our accredited online degree programs include undergraduate degreesmaster's degrees, and Certificates of Completion, all of which align with the academic standards employers expect of a state university.

3. What student resources are available?

In addition to your classes and coursework, you are going to need some guidance after graduation, perhaps when you’re looking for a new job or applying for promotions within your current company. Or maybe you're most interested in the resources that bolster you in your studies while you work toward your degree. Decide what kinds of resources are most important to you, and find out which schools offer them. If you're looking for a vast, easily accessible library, make sure the schools you're considering have them. On the other hand, if you're looking for a college with a wealth of extra-curricular activities, you'll want to make sure you ask about those in advance. At CSU Global, for instance, we offer a Career Center to all students at no additional cost. This allows students to receive hands-on guidance from professional Career Counselors, and learn valuable resume and interview tips. We also host a job board to direct students and alumni to vacancies within our hundreds of affiliate organizations. We also offer 24/7 library and tutoring services, as well as round-the-clock tech support. These services help you to study and complete your course work on your schedule, whatever time of day is most convenient for you.

4. Does the school fit your lifestyle?

Will you be able to balance work with school and attend your classes regularly? It may seem like an obvious question, but it's also one of the most important. If you are a working adult, class schedules and locations might be difficult to keep up with, especially if you have a family. Where will you find the time for class? Where and when will you do your homework? If you're looking at attending classes on campus, what is the commute like? Will you be stuck on the highway during rush hour, or are you able to take the classes you need at a time that works better for you? We've taken questions like these to heart. Our Spring 2015 alumni survey showed that 39% of our students were between the ages of 25 and 34, so we know that a work-life-school balance is important to students. That's why we design our courses for working adults, and don't have fixed class times or locations. Whether you’re at the doctor’s office with your child, working out with a friend, or sitting in your backyard by yourself, as long as you have internet access, you’re already on campus.  If this degree of flexibility is important to you and your busy schedule, then this is a question worth asking up front.

“I am a husband and a father of soon-to-be two, CSU Global will allow me to show my children that even if you have many responsibilities, a higher education can be achieved as long as you’re willing to put in the effort and have a great university like CSU Global.” -- Marc Anthony Blattner, M.S. in Management

5. Are the students happy?

Accreditation, resources, and accessibility aside, take time to research if the students and alumni are happy with their academic experience. After all, students know their schools well. They know how well their needs are being met. And, maybe most importantly, they are happy to speak honestly about their experience. If you know students at a particular school, that's obviously the best place to start. But if you don't, you can always post to a school's Facebook page (or other social media site) and pose the question to a wider sample. Ask students about their experience with the school, and check back to see what they have to say. Their considerations may differ from yours, but you'll still get a good sense of how satisfied they are with their experience, and they may even answer a few questions you didn't think to ask. We're always in the habit of asking students and alumni for their feedback. In fact, here are a few of the results from our recent alumni survey:
  • 95% of students say their program contributed to their professional goals
  • 93% of students say their program contributed to their lifelong learning skills
  • 90% of students were satisfied with their education
  • 89% of students report working pay after graduation
  • 87% of students would encourage a friend or family member to attend CSU Global
These are just five questions you should be asking of potential schools. There may be others that are important to you, and you should ask those as well. The most important thing is to make sure you choose a university that meets your needs as a professional. Admittedly, we're a bit biased here; after all, this the official blog of CSU Global.  Ultimately, though, we want you to find the best match for yourself, your goals, and your lifestyles that can help you be successful, whether that ends up being with us or not. Choose the school that works for you, and make sure you asking the right questions to determine which that is.