College-bound students tend to focus on academics and cost of tuition when deciding on a school. While these are important considerations, students often overlook the importance of a strong college community.
There is no doubt that lessons learned in the college classroom are carried into graduates’ professional lives and beyond, but exceptional colleges offer students much more than superb in-class experiences. Here, Liberal Arts Colleges is offering college-bound students a list of the many benefits that colleges with strong communities can offer:
1. A Sense of Belonging
Strong college communities give everyone on campus the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging. The 2015 Gallup-Purdue Index Report states that “relationships most affect graduates’ perception that their education was worth the cost.” This finding proves that college students find meaning in their interactions with others, not just in academics.
Students seek meaningful connections on campus, and when a college offers a strong sense of community, there are more opportunities to connect. Colleges can bring students together by offering a variety of activities and events both on and off campus. An engaging college community will ensure that students’ sense of belonging carries over into everyday campus life, and not just during special activities.
Along with a sense of belonging, students who attend colleges with strong communities tend to feel safe in their college environments. Along with feeling physically safe on campus, students feel free to open up to others and ask for assistance when needed, which results in a more enjoyable college experience.
3. An Emphasis on Individuality
While it is imperative that colleges encourage connectedness through group participation for its students, an appreciation for individuality is equally vital. The Gallup-Purdue Index Report found that many graduates described their college education as “worth the cost” if their professors “cared about [them] as a person.”
All individuals have unique strengths, talents, and abilities, which is an asset to college campuses. Collaborations between bright students and faculty who offer individual viewpoints and strengths lead to innovative ideas and increasingly forward-thinking campuses.
4. Regular Involvement With the Local Community
Students who attend colleges with strong communities will not only feel safe to connect with others on campus; they will feel more open to becoming involved in their local communities on a regular basis.
Because students who have positive college experiences are often comfortable connecting with others, their confidence allows them to branch out beyond the college campus to form meaningful relationships within their cities or towns. These students are more likely to take pride in their communities as well as their alma maters.
The Gallup-Purdue Index Report states that colleges must “seek reliable measures of the true value of education their institution provides students… [such as] faculty members’ interactions with students and meaningful experiential learning opportunities for students, that have a lasting impact on graduates’ lives,” due to the rising cost of college tuition.
Students who are deciding on a college should keep the dynamic of the campuses they are considering in mind. Below are a list of questions to ask before making that all-important decision.
- Is there a strong sense of community on this campus? What activities and events are offered?
- Will my individuality be appreciated, along with the strengths I can bring to group interactions?
- Will I feel physically and emotionally safe on this campus?
- Does this college encourage involvement in the local community?
- Do graduates of this college take pride in their alma mater?