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Four things to look for while evaluating colleges

February 19, 2016

Are you trying to decide which college would best fit you and your goals? Choosing an organization for your education is difficult—and unnerving at times. The college you attend will become your home during very influential and pivotal years in your life. As one flips through university flyers and scrolls university web pages, there are so many factors to take into consideration. So, we talked to current NNU students to discover what they have found to be important during their college experience.


1. Academic rigor
While the ultimate goal of college is to receive a degree, it is the education that is invaluable. The education received is meant to prepare students for more than future employment—it is meant to foster self-discovery. Therefore, it is important that the school fits the student’s future career, spiritual and personal goals; students need to find a college that has a strong program in their intended area of study, extracurriculars that they want to pursue, and the spiritual influence that they desire so that they can accomplish their personal goals.

When asked how her NNU education has impacted her life, nursing student Katie Conklin shares, “it challenges me to not settle for "good enough," but rather encourages me to pursue my best self in academics, athletics, and in my relationship with God.”

2. Community
As mentioned earlier, the college you choose will be your home. Involved or uninvolved—city and college community will determine what kind of experience students have. Community has a powerful way of influencing the members in it.

While talking about his time at NNU, junior international studies major Phil Haunschild emphasizes, “ask any graduate and they will tell you that the things that have shaped them the most have been the community, the people, the individual interactions and relationships with their professors, and the ways that their classes have allowed them to understand more than just the material they are tested on.” Community is a crucial element in any experience.

3. Out-of-classroom opportunities
With academics in the forefront, it is easy for students to forget to search for the opportunities available beyond the classroom. Whether affiliated with the school or in the community, opportunities for hands-on-experience are valuable. Taking these opportunities will not only look good on a resumé, but they create great memories, provide experience for future careers and can even lead to more opportunities.

When asked what was influential about her college experience, Lauren Diaz said, “because NNU is a smaller school I feel like I have had more opportunities to explore, lead and challenge myself than I would elsewhere. I got to go to New York City with a finance group, I've gotten to work with real clients to help with marketing plans and products, and I've gotten to know a lot of really smart and amazing people.”

4. Location
Enjoy the location. Whether you like the atmosphere of a certain city or you want to explore the surrounding landscape, choose a place that fits your interests outside of school. Don’t be confined to your campus and your studies. Everyone needs a respite from their usual schedule, so make the respite easily accessible—choose a place you enjoy. Pursue hobbies. Be close to family. Experience something new. Go to school in a place that allows you to pursue what you want to pursue.

Global business major Janessa Dyk has found that location has played a big role in her college experience. The Boise National Forest and Sawtooth National Forest have been ideal for supporting her various outdoor pursuits. She explains that NNU is perfect, because “I wanted to go somewhere new but relatively close to home.” Janessa has been able to explore another part of the Northwest while earning her degree.


The next time you are evaluating a college remember to place weight on what is most important. As Haunschild explains, “students coming in can look at different aspects like the average salary of students post-graduation, the tuition or average financial aid, the faculty-student ratio, or the average GPA of students, but the things that truly matter are not going to be found on college comparison websites.” Take into consideration the academic rigor, community, out-of-classroom opportunities and location; choose a school that you think will help transform you into the person you would like to become.

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