Before you attend any college, do a reality check.
Ask yourself: Could I become friends with the US college students on this campus? Having classmates you’re comfortable with plays an important role in your satisfaction with a US college.
If you can’t get the college’s demographics online, ask the admissions office to help. No matter how many colleges you apply to, you should be able to find the ratio of males to females, the most popular majors and average scores on the SAT or ACT.
Note the total enrollment. Decide if you want to know each of your classmates by name or if you don’t mind sometimes being just a face in the crowd. Some students find themselves lost on a big campus with a large student body. Others enjoy the occasional anonymity.
Check if the college enrolls mostly in-state students or if it attracts people from around the US, or even the world. Also look for the number of undergraduate versus graduate students and the average age of the student body.
Some colleges focus on non-traditional students going back to college to finish a degree, and the average age of the student body will be slightly older.
US colleges are eager to provide statistics that show they have a low student-faculty ratio or the best students based on SAT or ACT scores. However, they probably won’t point to polls that show them ranked as a party school or a place with a high suicide rate.
Some books and websites rank universities in the USA on a number of different academic and social categories. This will give you an idea of which colleges to steer clear of and which might warrant a second look.
Potential students from other countries may want to find out a US college’s international enrollment.
For example, the University of Southern California recently hosted 9,840 international students, the most of any US university, according to a report by the Institute of International Education. It was followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University and New York University.
You may also want to find out the number of international faculty members and whether the school hosts any international student clubs that could make it easier for you to meet students from other countries.
The demographics of the area where the college is located are also worth considering. A vibrant Polish community, for example, might make the student from Poland feel more comfortable, even if few students from that country attend the school. Speak with international student services at the college if you have any questions.
No correct answers exist regarding a college’s demographics. Only you can determine if you want to be surrounded by US college students, students with a similar background to yours, or something completely different.
Decide how much diversity is important to you in a college’s student body, and find a school that matches your preferences.