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[dropcap]You’ve[/dropcap] been accepted to college, and you’ve figured out how you’re going to pay for it. Now what? What else should a prospective student consider when selecting a college?

According to Alison Walls, M.A., the director of student life at Mid-America Christian University, making a list defining what the ideal school looks like and what values are important to you is a great starting point.

Some of the things to consider are school values, educational tools, college matriculation rate, teacher-student ratio, and lastly, what types of extracurricular opportunities are available. The list includes clubs and organizations. Arts and culture. Politics, civics, service and social justice. Whatever your interests are, most colleges and universities have an organization or club to fit your needs and interests, Walls says.

“Joining a group gives the student a built-in social group of similar interests,” she says. “Once a student is invested in a group or club, they often get involved in peripheral activities as well because they are more aware of what is happening on campus.

“Often times it allows students to discover something they are very passionate about but in which they haven’t had much experience,” Walls adds. “For example, we have a student right now who has a deep passion for our Campus Activities Board. She has thoroughly enjoyed and been incredibly effective in planning events for her fellow students. Because of this experience, she is interested in pursuing a career in student activities or event planning once she graduates.”

Don’t see a club or organization you’re interested in? Most colleges and universities allow students to approach their respective student governments to start new organizations.

“At MACU, we are committed to student voice, and students are able to petition the Student Government Association to start a new club in their particular area of interest,” Walls says.

In college, clubs are also self-sufficient rather than teacher oriented, says Walls.

“Clubs in college are student-built, student-driven, student-visioned, and student-sustained. Each club has a faculty or staff adviser who helps provide guidance and support, but the students really run the show.”

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