5 Non-Academic Questions to Ask Yourself When Selecting a University

5 Non-Academic Questions to Ask Yourself When Selecting a University

Hello everyone! My name is Katy, and I am a fourth-year student studying Environmental Engineering with a minor in International Development. Hopefully, you found your way to my blog because you are trying to pick which university you want to attend, just like I was doing four years ago! I hope through my process of applying, visiting, and selecting a university, I can help you do the same. 

I am sure you all can agree, picking a college to attend is stressful! With so many great options, it can be overwhelming to feel like you are making the right decision. While many universities offer great academic programs and degrees, that’s not what college is all about! Below are the five non-academic questions that I asked myself about each university I was considering attending. Going over the answers to these questions helped me to pick the perfect university for me: Colorado State University!  

1: Location

Where is the university? Is it 100 miles or 1,000 miles away from home? 

Choosing to stay in your home state or go out of your home state for college is a big concern! Not only does this affect your finances, but logistically, it is important to think about beforehand. 

Student ambassador Katy Rodriguez as a first year at the Oval

Being an out-of-state student from California, it was important for me to research things like cars and transportation on campus my first year. Do I need a car? Should I have a car? For you fellow out-of-state students, I personally found it easiest to not have a car my first year. Using Groome Transportation I was able to schedule a shuttle that picked me up on campus and took me straight to my airline at the Denver Airport. This took care of my worries when I was flying back home for breaks. I also found out that CSU has an amazing transportation system both on and off campus. I take the bus systems everywhere in Fort Collins and never found a need for a car my first year.

Knowing that I could survive college 1,000 miles away without my own vehicle was a relief in my decision-making process. It is also important to note the average cost of living and rent in a city! Since you most likely will not live on campus through your entire undergrad, looking at what the rent might be once you move off campus is important too. 

2: Campus Culture and Environment

Do you thrive from competition? Or do you want more support when it comes to your goals and achievements?

Personally, I do not thrive in competitions for grades on exams, labs, projects, or anything else in life. I knew that becoming an engineer would be hard, so it was important to me to be surrounded by a supportive community where I wouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. This is one of the many reasons I chose CSU. On campus, the resources for both academic and non-academic help are endless! From tutoring to mental health counseling… and even more tutoring, I knew that at CSU I could get help with anything I needed.

I wanted an environment and campus culture where my classmates would become my “study buddies”, and other people I met on campus would be rooting for my success. Since attending CSU, nothing could be more true!

…it was important to me to be surrounded by a supportive community where I wouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. This is one of the many reasons I chose CSU.

Here is a list of some of the few (of many) resources I have utilized on campus for free:

1. TILT Tutoring

2. TILT Academic Success Workshops

3. Academic Village Tutoring & Mentoring

4. CSU Health Network Counseling

Students studying in the ground floor of the Engineering Residence Hall

3: Weather

Does it snow? Does it rain all the time? Is it too hot or too cold?

As trivial as this may sound, coming to Colorado and experiencing the weather here was a big concern of mine! I have lived in Bakersfield, California my whole life. For about 4 months out of the year the average high temperature is anywhere from 90 to 110 degrees. The last time it snowed, I was only 1 month old, and the entire town lost its mind!

You know you're from California when you consider 65 degrees and below freezing

I had never seen snow physically falling from the sky before and had only “been to the snow” a couple of times. Deciding to move to Colorado was out of my comfort zone, but I hopped on those Black Friday deals and bought the thickest winter coat I could find!

You know you're from California when you're never prepared for the rain

Since moving here, I have now acclimated to the weather very well and I no longer wear two pairs of pants and Uggs when it is 65 degrees. While the weather is something to consider and prepare for, don’t let it be the sole reason for voting a university off your list.

4: On Campus Activities and Extracurriculars

Will I find any friends who have the same interests as me? Are there fun things to do on campus outside of school?

I spent my high school years extremely involved in extracurricular activities outside of school, so for me it was important to continue having fun while taking care of my degree. At Colorado State University, there are about 500 clubs and organizations!

Some are related to academics like the American Society of Civil Engineers or American Medical Women’s Association of CSU, and some are not related to academics. Organizations like sororities and fraternities, or fun clubs like the Alpine Ski Team, Rock Climbing Club, or Astronomy Club can also be found on this CSU Clubs and Organizations List.

I played many sports in high school, and while I definitely was not “D1 Bound”, I still wanted to continue playing sports. My first semester I started playing Intramural Sports which are open to anyone of any skill level! I have played flag football, basketball, and kickball. At Colorado State, the opportunities on campus for extracurriculars are endless! I encourage you to make sure every campus you are considering has fun things to do to help you de-stress from schoolwork.

Engineering Ambassador Katy Rodriguez's IM flag football team
My (almost championship winning team) after a co-ed flag football game last Fall!

5: Life Outside of School and Campus

What is the city like? Are there fun things to do after you leave campus?

This question was also an important one for me personally to ask when considering a university. I did not want to be stuck on campus in the same ~1 square mile radius and not have anything to do outside of campus.

Luckily, at CSU, that is definitely not the case. Fort Collins has so much to offer! Check out my coworker’s blog on fun things to do in Fort Collins for more ideas.

Some of my personal favorite things to do in Fort Collins are hike, hang out at Horsetooth Reservoir when the weather is nice, visit Old Town, or hit the many local breweries. With so much variety in activities to do, after four years here I still have a Fort Collins bucket list that I haven’t completed yet! 

Engineering ambassador Katy Rodriguez shows Ram Pride

Remember to ask yourself these 5 questions when debating to attend any university! Hopefully they can help you make the right decision just like they did for me. 

Katy Rodriguez, ambassador

Author: Katy Rodriguez

Katy Rodriguez is a fourth-year student from Bakersfield, California and is studying Environmental Engineering with a minor in International Development. She loves her job as an Engineering Student Ambassador, as well as her current internship with Water Supply and Storage Company. She hopes to have a future career in water resources for an international engineering firm that allows her to continue to travel and do her humanitarian work in underdeveloped countries.  


If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the engineering ambassador team at explore@engr.colostate.edu!