Families & Guardians > Selecting the Right School

Selecting the Right School

What resources are available to families and students to help with the college selection process?

You can help your child begin the search for the best college or university through a multitude of avenues: the Internet, a conversation with high school counselors and teachers, a college fair in your area, or interviews with alumni. The important thing is to start the search!

Here are a few online tools that might help you begin this search and selection process:

Most importantly, be ready and willing to ask plenty of questions!

What should my child study, and how will this lead to a career?

If your child has already decided on a major, be sure to look into schools with robust programs in that field of study, but remember that rankings aren’t everything. For a student who is undecided, a larger school with a wide variety of majors may be a good choice.

For most students, their career title will be very different from their major. Most colleges have an office that works with students on career planning and makes sure that students have the background and tools they need to be successful in a chosen career. Planning can include classes, internships, mentorship, and skill development.

Learn more about University of Chicago’s Career Advancement programming »

What about location?

A significant consideration for many families, guardians, and students is how far away a college or university is from home. Some of you may want your children to stay close to home, but the best college choice for your child’s academic and career interests may be very far away.

Other factors to consider include cost, lifestyle, and opportunities. The farther away a school is, the more expensive trips home may be–especially if the student has to take a flight for each visit.

Is your child comfortable living in a large city? Or would a smaller, more traditional "college town" be a better fit? A larger city might offer more internship or summer job opportunities, and that could lead to better job prospects after graduation. At the same time, a smaller town might provide the right environment for your child to excel.

Some college campuses, like the University of Chicago, combine the feeling of a small community with access to the cultural life of a big city. The University of Chicago is located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, in a community of its own just blocks from Lake Michigan. Destinations like the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, The Second City, the Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, the Chicago Board of Trade, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field, and hundreds of others, however are just a few miles away—a 20-minute ride by train or bus.

If possible, visit different schools so you and your child can get a sense of what it would be like to live and study there.

What are the student housing options?

The answer to this question varies widely depending on school. On–campus residence halls are a common option for incoming students. At some schools, first–year students are required to live on campus.

The latter is true at the University of Chicago. We believe that building community is important, and that a first year together on campus in shared housing creates lasting bonds among students. Our students live in residential houses that are led by trained staff members who support students throughout their college experiences.

Other housing options may include student apartments, Greek houses for those participating in fraternities or sororities, and off-campus housing. Of course, some of these are not available to first-year students, so you should definitely ask about the details of available housing choices at any college your child is considering.

Learn more about University of Chicago College Housing »

What about campus safety?

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also known as the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990, requires all colleges and universities to produce an annual report of their safety and security procedures, as well as statistics relating to criminal offenses reported to the police. You should be able to request a copy of this report from any university to which your child applies.

Learn more about University of Chicago Crime Information and Statistics »

What could students do for fun?

Unlike high school, where students are in class seven hours a day, a truly rewarding college experience accommodates a student’s schedule. That means scholar-athletes, principal cellists, and quiz bowl champions have plenty of time to do what they love outside of the classroom.

Of course, the school’s location will, to a certain extent, determine the activities available outside of the classroom, but most colleges and universities have student organizations that provide a wide array of opportunities for your child to get involved in activities.

What health services are available to students? Do we have to pay extra for health services, or are they covered by student fees?

When your children go away to college, it is important for you–and them–to know what health services are available and how to access them.

As with student housing, health services options will vary widely depending on the college or university. Most if not all educational institutions provide for the health and wellness needs of the campus community. In addition, many offer counseling services as well as after-hours care.

All registered students at the University of Chicago are assessed a quarterly Student Life Fee that allows them access to the Student Health Service and Student Counseling Service.

Learn more about student health at the University of Chicago »