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The college visit serves 2 important purposes: getting to know campus and getting to know the people who call it home. Your college tour guide will likely be a current student who can help you do both! Walking around campus is a great opportunity to ask your guide questions about the college experience—and with this list, you’ll be prepared! Here are 5 must-ask questions for your next college visit:

Why did you choose to come to this college?

When you are faced with a decision, sometimes it’s helpful to get someone else’s perspective. It’s possible that a current student could identify with your situation—for example, maybe you’re both from small towns or a large high school or have similar academic or co-curricular interests. Even if your tour guide comes from different circumstances, hearing what impacted their college decision may offer insights that will help you make yours.

Do students and faculty ever interact outside of class?

At larger universities, one-on-one meetings with a professor are harder to come by, and you may be directed to meet with a tutor or the professor’s teaching assistant when you have questions. Even so, some college professors hold regular office hours when students can meet with them and ask questions about a course, navigating a career in their field, or life on campus. At Northwestern College, professors are very intentional about supporting students from their first day of classes to graduation and beyond! Not only do they have office hours, but many of them encourage students to meet them for coffee, and some extend invitations to join their family for a home-cooked meal.

What are the dorms like?

This question addresses a key part of the college experience: residence life! Do students tend to stick to their own rooms, or is there more of a community atmosphere? Will you live in a freshmen-only dorm your first year, or will you live alongside upperclassmen? Northwestern College residence life is known for its fun dorm traditions, which include weekly pancake parties and an annual battle with cardboard and duct-tape armor. Many students keep the doors to their rooms open because of the welcoming, trusting community that is found across campus. Plus, our dorms are home to freshmen through seniors, so you’ll get to live among upperclassmen who can offer advice about all things college—from good study habits to building relationships and more.

Do students usually stay on campus over the weekend or go home?

Here’s another good question about residence life. If you end up attending a college that’s far from home, you might appreciate knowing if there will be others that stick around on the weekends. This is also a good way to gauge what activities are available and may give you an idea of what students like to do for fun. Many Northwestern students choose to remain on campus because there’s so much going on! With opportunities to support the Raiders at athletic events; regular music concerts and play performances; and student activities like sand volleyball tournaments, dances and an American Idol-style competition, you’ll have plenty to do when you need a break from studying.

How do students get involved on campus?

If you enjoy participating in high school activities, ask about the college’s co-curricular options to find out if they align with your passions. What sports can students compete in? Are there intramurals available if you want to play just for fun? Are their theatre and music programs open to majors from any discipline? Northwestern offers many of these activities to its students, including opportunities to get involved with campus ministries, short-term mission trips, residence and campus life, and on-campus jobs.

For additional ideas of questions to ask on your visit, check out our other blog posts: A Guide to the College Search Process and What Parents Should Look for on a Campus Visit. And remember: There’s no such thing as a silly question! Chances are, the college’s admissions counselors have heard your question before and will be happy to help.

If you want to be part of a standout college community that’s committed to academic excellence and centered on Christ, explore life at Northwestern College at

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To help you navigate the college search process, we sought the advice of the best experts around: college freshmen who were in your shoes not so long ago! Here’s what they wish they had known in high school:

Visit a variety of colleges, even if you think you know where you want to go.

Deciding on a college is a bit like an all-you-can-eat buffet: There are plenty of options for you to explore, so sample as much as you can. If you’ve always planned to attend a large state university, try visiting a small private college to see which environment you like best. And if you happen to live in a college town, don’t bypass the college option in your own backyard! Schedule a visit so you can experience campus firsthand—it might be different than you thought.

Don’t worry about choosing a college major right away.

It’s OK to arrive on campus undecided about your college major. Most schools plan for the first semester to be a time of exploration when you can take classes in areas that interest you and see what feels like a good fit. At Northwestern College, our expert staff in the Compass Center for Career & Calling walk alongside students as they discern their future career path and help them choose a major that will enable them to get there.

Go where you feel you could have the most positive growth.

College is the perfect time in life to step outside of your comfort zone, try new things and grow academically, personally and spiritually. While it may be tempting to choose the college where all your high school friends are going, it’s important to make the decision that’s best for you and your future goals. Plus, college will introduce you to new friends who will make campus feel like a “home away from home.”

Apply for scholarships and get involved with activities right away.

Whether you love to make music, perform on stage or play a sport, you may qualify for a scholarship. Check with your admissions counselor about available opportunities and for more information about any auditions or applications that might be required. If you get good grades, you’ll probably be eligible for an academic scholarship as well. At Northwestern, admitted students receive a minimum of $12,500 in scholarships or grants, making college more affordable for students like you.

Take your time—and don’t forget to enjoy your senior year!

Choosing a college is a big decision, so it’s alright if you need time to make your choice. Talk to friends and family members about your goals for college and share about your experiences on college visits. They may be able to offer an outside perspective that can help you decide which college is right for you. And in the midst of such a big decision, don’t forget to enjoy the present moment and have fun while you’re still in high school! Savor the sweet memories you’re making with your friends and teammates, and be sure to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished so far in your education.

Looking for a college that’s intentionally Christian? Check out Northwestern College at or reach out to one of our admissions counselors at We’re passionate about helping students succeed in college and beyond—and we’d love to support you in your search for a college home.

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“Your college years will be the most formative years of your life.” Maybe you’ve heard this from a parent or family member, but is it true? For many students, college is not only where they get a degree—it’s where they form friendships, experience academic and personal growth, and make connections that could lead to a job after graduation.

So your family is probably right when they say college will be an important part of your life. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, the friends and mentors you’ll find at a Christian college or university could be among the people who disciple you along your journey.

If you want to spend your college years learning and growing in faith, find out more about a college’s opportunities for spiritual enrichment and development. It’s also likely that you’ll get a sense of a college’s Christian commitment when you make a visit to campus.

Here are a few reasons why you might benefit from attending a college that’s intentionally Christian:

You’ll have easy access to spiritual resources.

Although you can be a Christian at whichever college you choose, attending a Christian college gives you the option to practice your faith through on-campus chapel services, small-group ministries and service opportunities. At Northwestern College, students worship together up to three times per week, and many choose to participate in weekly D-groups (discipleship groups) in the dorms.

Many of your classmates and professors will share your faith and values.

College is a life season marked by big changes—including moving away from home. It can be inspiring to live and learn in a place where others share your core beliefs. At a Christian college, you’ll meet students who want to grow in their faith (just like you!), and your Christian professors, coaches and other staff mentors will be able to support you throughout your college experience. You’ll find that to be true at Northwestern. We strive to be a Christian academic community that cares about your personal and spiritual growth in the classroom, in the dorms, on the court or stage, and beyond.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to serve others.

If you enjoy high school mission trips, attending a Christian college might be a way to have similar short-term mission experiences. Most Christian colleges or universities have connections to local churches, mission organizations or nonprofits—many of which LOVE student volunteers! Northwestern’s Justice + Service team participates in service projects, packages food for families impacted by natural disasters, and raises funds for organizations that combat injustices like human trafficking. Northwestern also sends teams on 10-day Spring Service Partnerships and 6- to 8-week Summer of Service experiences, opportunities that take our students around the world to partner with missionaries and serve God’s people.

You’ll develop a biblical worldview.

For colleges that are intentionally Christian, faith is central to the student experience. You’ll likely hear the truth of the gospel message in chapel or an introductory religion course, but you’ll also encounter people who strive to be more like Jesus in their daily lives. Your professors will bring a Christian perspective to the subject matter, and your coach or director will inspire you to perform for God’s glory. Attending a Christian college can support you in making faith a priority in your life and can help you to see the world through the eyes of Christ.

College is an exciting time to discover more about who you are and what God is calling you to do. We think Northwestern College is the perfect place to do that! Here you’ll spend four years getting to know more about who God is and how you can participate in God’s redeeming work in the world in whatever profession you pursue.

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When you decide to attend college, you’ll be making an investment of time and money. Here are some practical steps you can take to ensure you are making a wise investment and preparing to get the most out of your college experience.

  1. Envision your preferred future. Interest inventories found online or offered by many high schools and colleges are a great way to help you shape the vision for your future. Think about the type of lifestyle you want to have and the style of work that you enjoy. Remember that college is preparation for life, not just a profession.

    Through the Pathway U online tool, current and prospective students of Northwestern College gain insight into their interests, personality, workplace preferences and values. They are also connected to career matches and career research options.]

  2. Read and challenge yourself academically. Strive to take advanced classes and train yourself to work hard academically while still in high school. Read about subject areas that interest you. Seek out both educational and experiential information that will deepen your knowledge of the subjects.
  3. Do your research. Compare the differences in academics and student life between schools. Find out if professors or graduate students are teaching the introductory classes. Ask current students or alumni about the campus culture.

    At Northwestern College, our general education courses are taught by some of our best faculty, and there are no classes taught by graduate assistants. We believe in providing a standout academic experience in every classroom at every level of study. Additionally, we have professionally trained residence life staff committed to keeping our students safe and promoting positive living environments on campus.

  4. Learn time management and good study skills. College offers a lot of freedom combined with significant responsibilities. Make it a priority to master time management and good study skills while you are still in high school. Your hard work in these areas will set you up for success.
  5. Work with your school counselor and online resources. Your counselor can help you explore college options, narrow down your search and learn about the application process. Additionally, online resources can be helpful.
  6. Explore ways to pay for college and make it affordable.Find out if the colleges you’re considering offer scholarships or financial awards for academic, athletic, music, theatre or other achievements. Ask about student employment opportunities on and off campus. Seek out scholarships offered in your community and online and become familiar with student loan options.

    Northwestern strives to make college affordable so students can be empowered to find their calling and pursue God’s redeeming work in the world. All new students are guaranteed at least $12,500 in scholarships and grants—and that amount will grow, depending on your GPA, athletic or performing arts participation, as well as your potential to contribute to NWC’s mission through leadership and involvement. Find more tips on how to make college affordable in this blog post.

  7. Keep your grades up and continue being active in your community. Colleges are looking for good students who are also good citizens. Taking challenging classes and making time to serve in your church or community show your quality of character and demonstrate responsibility.
  8. Take the PSAT, ACT and/or SAT. Although many colleges are test-optional, taking one or more of these exams can be very beneficial. Testing provides the opportunity to study and solidify concepts you’ll need in college and, in some cases, good test scores can result in more financial awards from the college.

    Although Northwestern College is test-optional, we encourage students to take the ACT, SAT or CLT and submit test scores as they may increase eligibility for additional academic scholarships. Learn more at

  9. Look for a school that invests in supporting first-year students. Going from high school to college is one of the biggest transitions in life. Help yourself navigate this important life step by finding a college that is intentional about investing in first-year students through programming and other support services.

    To help new students transition to college life, Northwestern offers a First-Year Seminar course that teaches self-learning strategies and introduces students to interdisciplinary thinking, college-level writing and public speaking, and our Christian academic community. Additionally, our weekly Thrive Workshops provide opportunities for first-year students to connect with others and learn life skills in a supportive environment.

  10. Do your own investigation. You know your interests, your personality and your concerns best. Take time to ask friends, teachers and other college students about what to expect in college. Get their advice on things to consider or resources they found helpful when going off to school.

We’d love to help you take your next step in preparing for college at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Schedule a visit and learn how you can be prepared not only for college, but to lead a life of significance. Learn more about Northwestern College at

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While many high school students are excited about the prospect of going to college, the search process can seem intimidating and overwhelming. We get it. We spoke with Northwestern College’s admissions counselors about the most common questions they hear and collected the information to create these FAQs that can help.

Where do I even begin?

The best advice we can give is to start early. This way you can take your time in researching colleges, gathering materials and making an informed decision.

How early? Start your junior, or even sophomore, year by sitting down and making a list of priorities you have for choosing a college. Some examples could be location, academic programs, campus culture, size of the college or university, scholarships and affordability.

How do I apply to colleges? Do I need to write an essay?

Once you’ve made your priority list and have researched the schools you may be interested in, it will be time to apply. College applications can be found online via the school’s website. Entry fees and requirements, such as writing an essay or providing letters of recommendation, will vary from school to school. For example, Northwestern College’s application is free, does not require an essay, has no deadline, and we’ve even gone test-optional for students who meet certain GPA criteria.

Where should I go to ask questions?

Admissions counselors are there to help you through every step of your college search. In fact, their entire job revolves around YOU. You should hear from your admissions counselor shortly after applying, if not sooner. If you don’t hear from them, reach out to the school’s admissions office, and have them put you in contact directly. Be sure to ask for your counselor’s email or cell phone number so you can use them as a resource for all of your questions along the way.

When should I schedule a visit?

Many advise to visit colleges early and often. And most schools offer visits year-round. Our recommendation is to schedule visits during the fall semester of your senior year. Campus is full of life, the weather is pleasant, your school year hasn’t gotten too busy yet, and this positions you to have plenty of time in your spring semester to focus on the larger decisions ahead.

Be sure you research the differences between an individual visit and a group visit before you register so you can choose the type of visit best suited for you!

What is FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®). (It’s your opportunity to apply and qualify for grants, scholarships and loans awarded by the federal and/or state government.) And don’t forget the most important part—it is a FREE APPLICATION. After completion, your application information will be processed as they decide what financial aid you qualify for based on your family’s financial situation.

When will I receive my financial aid package?

You can file the FAFSA beginning in December this year. It is important to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible.

Due to processing times, you can expect to see your official financial aid package from colleges during the spring semester, typically around March. From here, you will have the option to view what you have qualified for and choose to accept or decline each award. Any additional academic or extracurricular scholarships you may qualify for will be included in your financial aid package from each school.

Our advice: Be patient. Don’t make any decisions about where you’ll attend college until you’ve received all your information and can make a true comparison of bottom-line costs.

What does it mean to "deposit"?

A college deposit is a small, one-time fee that gives you access to a lot of perks. At Northwestern, we recommend that you deposit within two weeks after you've been accepted for admission. There's no risk—your $200 deposit is fully refundable through May 1 if you choose not to attend NWC—but depositing enables the fun to begin! You will gain access to housing applications, dorm room assignments, roommate pairings, class selections and more. And there are advantages to deciding and depositing sooner rather than later. Many of these lists, such as housing applications and class selections, are on a first-come, first-served basis. The sooner you deposit, the higher on the list you will be for access!

What should I do when I have made my final college decision?

Shout it from the rooftops! Tell your friends and family. Share on social media. Be sure to let your admissions counselor know you have made your final decision. They will guide you through the process of making things official.

As awkward as it may be, we do suggest you contact the other schools you were considering. This way they can remove you from their contact lists as you prepare for graduation and the transition to the college you have chosen.

We know the college search process can seem daunting, but preparing yourself, understanding the process, and asking the right questions will lead you to a more stress-free search and final decision. Make sure you ask for help when you need it. Our admissions counselors at Northwestern College are experts and are here to help! Contact us today!

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College is the perfect time to go places you’ve never been. By studying abroad, you’ll experience other cultures firsthand, grow in independence and confidence, and maybe even learn a new language. The best part? Your overseas learning can count toward your college degree and might even help you graduate faster.

Here are some other perks of taking anywhere from a month to a semester to study abroad:

  1. Make cross-cultural connections.

    By observing people’s daily routines, sampling their culinary creations and engaging in everyday conversations, you’ll learn plenty about a country’s residents and their way of life. You will likely make some international friends—and because study abroad programs often draw college students from across the United States, you could develop relationships with students from other American colleges and universities. When you return to campus, you’ll bring fresh insights that will challenge and inspire your peers. That’s why Northwestern College provides study and service opportunities around the world.

  2. Grow in global perspective—and stand out to future employers.

    As you settle into your new surroundings, you may find yourself becoming more aware of the culture you grew up in and how it compares to where you’re studying. This insight—along with coursework taken in a foreign language or in cultural studies—will set you apart from your peers when you apply for jobs or graduate schools. Employers will value your experience interacting with people outside the U.S., as well as your willingness to adapt to a new environment.

  3. Go on an adventure! (With support from the experts.)

    If you pursue a study abroad experience with your college, chances are they’ll help you apply to the program, make travel arrangements, and apply for a visa. Northwestern College’s global education office provides these services to any student enrolled in our award-winning Romania or Oman semesters. If you apply to a program with another school, our helpful staff members will check in to see how things are going, offer opportunities for orientation before you go, and set up a time to discuss your experience once you return home. Plus, study abroad programs have on-site staff to help you navigate any challenges and process the experience.

  4. See the world without spending a wad.

    Many schools allow you to apply 100% of your financial aid to a semester abroad—especially if the experience is a requirement for your major. If you pursue a program that’s not sponsored by your college, the chances of keeping your full financial award aren’t as great, but you may be able to use at least a portion of those funds to pay for your study abroad experience. Northwestern also offers 3- to 4-week summer study abroad courses, which introduce students to new places without requiring a semester-long commitment. These experiences are led by Northwestern professors, are often a strong complement to a major’s coursework, and meet cross-cultural requirements.

  5. Earn academic credit toward your degree.

    Some colleges include a foreign language or cross-cultural class as part of the requirements for their general studies core or for a specific major. In many cases, you can meet that requirement with study abroad experience, perhaps by taking a language class in a country where English isn’t the primary language.

Wherever your college journey takes you, be sure to carve out time to explore the world around you. Once you step outside your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised by the unique places—and people—that are part of God’s amazing creation.

Northwestern offers its own summer and semester-long study abroad opportunities and also partners with programs in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit to learn more.

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College is a wonderful time of freedoms and opportunities coupled with academic challenges and responsibilities. Those who thrive in college graduate with both career-worthy skills and lifelong friends and memories. But without some intentionality, balancing academics and college life can be one of the most challenging things students face. How can you achieve this balance?

Plan + Prioritize
Prioritizing your responsibilities and activities, as well as time for yourself, is key to thriving in college. Take time to determine what requires the most attention and effort, and consider your working style. When do you have the most energy and focus during the day?  Make a plan each week for when and how you will accomplish your tasks. Get a planner or create a system for keeping track of your life. Be disciplined to do your classwork before hanging out with friends. Look for time slots in your day when you can study, work or take care of life needs like doing laundry.

Northwestern College’s Compass Center for Career & Calling can assist students in identifying their skills and determining a plan for working toward their goals. Talking through interests, talents and commitments with a career counselor can be instrumental in knowing how best to use your time.

Make Healthy Choices
In order to accomplish your goals, you also need to take care of your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly are choices you can make that will enable you to perform well and enjoy life. Be aware of things that are distracting, and avoid them during times you need to focus. (This may mean turning your phone off for a while or studying somewhere other than your room.) And before adding an activity to your calendar, ask yourself, “Will participation in this group or club contribute to something I value or not?” and “Do I have time to add this to my other responsibilities?”

At Northwestern College, we are preparing students for life beyond college. Our dedicated residence life, student life and counseling programs offer many services to help students make positive and healthy choices that will empower them to lead a life of significance and success. Northwestern’s award-winning facilities provide great places for students to study, exercise, worship together and connect with others in activities. We’re committed to helping you make healthy choices that will result in meeting your goals.

Ask for Help
If you’re struggling in a class, don’t wait to get help.  Seek assistance from a friend, meet with a tutor in the Peer Learning Center or schedule time with your professor to ask questions and get the help you need. Keeping up with the concepts and work in each class will help you succeed academically and will reduce your overall stress.

Northwestern College’s Peer Learning Center offers more than 180 tutors ready to help students in all areas of study. Our tutors are students who understand and model time management that allows for both academics and social activities. More than 75% of Northwestern students report using the Peer Learning Center at some point during their college years and have found it to be very helpful.

Try New Things
Openness to new experiences and ideas helps us lead a more balanced life. Look for opportunities on campus to interact with those who are different from you. Step out of your comfort zone. Try new activities. Participate in service projects and share your gifts with others. Doing these things will teach you both about yourself and the world. Understanding more about yourself will help you make choices that lead to life balance.

Students at Northwestern College can connect with others and consider new perspectives through Ngage. This program helps students think through the “big questions” of life in a deep and Christ-centered way. Our Bridge Center for Intercultural Development celebrates the diversity in God’s world and connects people with each other and with God. Additionally, our spring and summer short-term mission opportunities enable students to learn from and bless others all over the world.

College is a time of preparation for a career, but also for life. In addition to investing in coursework, take time to grow in your faith, build friendships, discover your gifts and passions, begin a mentoring relationship, and develop lifelong healthy habits. Planning, prioritizing, choosing well and trying new things will help you find balance between academics and other college activities, enabling you to have the time of your life while preparing for the rest of it.

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College is about learning new things and being challenged by new concepts. That’s how we grow. But, no matter how smart, prepared or experienced we are, there are times in life we all need a little help. Knowing where to find assistance on campus is key to succeeding in college.

Overall student success and well-being is a top priority for colleges. To help students thrive, most institutions offer a variety of support services centered around academics, mental health, campus living and career planning. Here are some services to look for when considering a college:

Academic support and tutoring
When we’re confused or stuck in our studies, the best thing we can do is ask someone who understands the concept. Finding a student who’s already taken the class, getting help from the professor, and taking advantage of campus tutoring services are great ways to gain the knowledge you need to master the skill or concept.

The Peer Learning Center at Northwestern College offers free tutoring provided by nearly 180 peer tutors. Additionally, the center offers study sessions, academic counseling, writing workshops and learning accommodations for those with disabilities. Three out of four Northwestern students use this valuable resource regularly during their college years.

Transition to college
It can be challenging to acclimate to the academic and social aspects of college life. It’s important to learn how to stay on top of your studies and structure your time and energy in ways that will result in success.

At Northwestern College, students participate in a First-Year Seminar course that teaches self-learning strategies and introduces them to interdisciplinary thinking, college-level writing and public speaking, and our Christian academic community. For those who are first-generation college students, commuters, geographically distant, students of color and students from an underrepresented population, Northwestern also offers RISE. This comprehensive transition program offers an orientation retreat, connection to a host family, and peer mentoring to provide students with additional support during college and prepare them for their future.

Counseling services
Recent statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicate more than half of college students report overwhelming anxiety that makes academics more difficult, and more than 80% of college students have felt overwhelmed by their responsibilities. (So feeling this way is pretty normal!) But it’s also important to find support to help you establish healthy ways of coping with these feelings and reducing stress.

Northwestern College offers free counseling services to all students. Licensed professional therapists provide private, confidential therapy for students to help them cope with issues, alter behaviors and ultimately manage the problems they’re facing.

Career and future planning
Your goal in college is to gain knowledge and experience that will give you the skills to fulfill your calling. However, when there are many options for applying your degree in the workforce, it can be hard to discern what opportunities to pursue. Talking with a career counselor is a great way to bring clarity to this process.

At Northwestern College, the Compass Center for Career and Calling helps students understand how to translate what they’ve learned into something valuable to employers. The center also assists students with resume writing, online job searches, and connecting with alumni through internships, job shadowing and employment.

Life skill training
For most students, college is a time of new independence and opportunity. This stage of life also begins a series of responsibilities that may be new and challenging. Look for a college that provides workshops, seminars or resources for students to help them learn about and excel in life skills needed for adulthood.

To equip our students to stand out and make wise choices as emerging adults, Northwestern College offers an “Adulting 101” series that includes tips and strategies on topics like personal finance, meal planning, dining etiquette and vehicle maintenance.

With the right support, all students can thrive in college. Be sure to research the resources available and take advantage of the support services offered. Asking for help is often the key to success.

Check out the extensive support services available to students at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. We’re committed to preparing students for a career and a life that makes a difference. At Northwestern, you’ll get the support you need to lead a life of significance and live out your calling. Learn more at

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Northwestern College students meet in a small group.

College-bound students face a lot of pressure. Beyond finishing high school, applying for scholarships and completing college applications, there’s the ever-present question, “What are you going to major in?”

Despite the pressure to have life planned out at age 18, it’s truly OK to enter college undecided on your major.

You’re not alone
Research shows 20 to 50% of students enter college with an undecided major, and more than 30% end up changing their major before they graduate.

That means a high percentage of students are still exploring their options throughout the first years of college. And they’re not doing this alone. Most colleges offer support services on campus to help students determine their areas of interest and define their strategy for choosing a major.

Beginning in the first year, the Compass Center for Career and Calling at Northwestern College works with students to help them assess their personality, strengths, interests and values—knowledge that’s invaluable when choosing a major and matching one’s skills with a potential career. It’s our goal to help students get to know themselves better and discern the options they have for using the gifts God has uniquely given them.

Take time to explore
Entering college undecided gives you time to find your true areas of passion and gifting. As an undecided major, you can take classes in various disciplines to assess which one feels like a good fit for you. Additionally, there are many opportunities outside the classroom that can help you clarify your field of interest. Interview people who work in fields that interest you. Participate in a job shadow, mentorship or internship program. The more experiences you pursue, the more equipped you’ll be to determine the major that’s best for you.

At Northwestern College, professors want students to gain an excellent liberal arts education and graduate when planned. They work hard to help students choose classes strategically and complete the credits necessary to still finish on time—even when students come to college undecided on a major. We’re proud that 86% of our graduates complete their degree in four years or less.

You are more than your major
Your degree will qualify you for a lot of things in life. Employers are looking for people with both skills and experiences that are valuable, transferable and marketable. If you come to college with a commitment to learn and grow, every experience you have will teach you something and help guide you toward your ultimate area of focus and calling in life. As you begin choosing a major, ask yourself, “What kinds of things can I do with this degree?” Look for ways you can take advantage of all the opportunities the college offers to gain real-world experience in your field. Seek out unique ways to grow in using what you are learning for your future career—and for your life outside your job.

Students who attend Northwestern stand out in their fields due to the wide variety of opportunities to gain real-world experience early on in their college years. Their ability to use what they learn in the classroom and apply it firsthand throughout their college career makes them well-rounded people and more marketable to employers.

Coming to college undecided could be your best decision. Being undecided opens up unlimited opportunities to explore, learn, grow and define your future in ways you may not have imagined. Take time to consider your best path and make each experience count along the way.

Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, equips students to embark on their calling by helping them explore their interests, develop their skills and experience hands-on learning. We invite you to learn more at

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Northwestern College social work professor Val Stokes talks with students at the Common Grounds.

Visiting colleges can be both exciting and overwhelming for parents and soon-to-be college students. You may have already browsed a college’s brochures and visited its website, but what should you look for when you’re actually on campus with your student?

  1. Academic rigor and support: Although the college experience involves many things, academic value is your biggest concern. Ensuring the college has a strong commitment to academic excellence is critical. Make plans to meet with a professor in the area of your student’s interests. Ask if you can attend a class or talk with some students in the major your student is considering. Tour the buildings where your student would be taking classes. Assess how the college has staffed and invested in facilities, technology and tutoring to aid in your student’s educational experience.
  2. Attention to students: Your student will grow and mature as a person during the college years. What—and who—will be the biggest influences in their life? As you tour the campus, pay attention to how the students and faculty are interacting. Do faculty and staff know students’ names? Are their interactions warm and friendly? What is the overall feel on campus? Does it seem like the culture is one where people care about one another?  
  3. Affinity groups: College provides opportunities to explore new activities, share talents and meet lifelong friends. Ask about the various sports, music, theatre, clubs and student leadership roles available. Make plans to meet with a coach, director or staff leader to learn more about groups your student might like. Go to a game. Attend a concert or a chapel service. Help your student “find their people” and get a taste of the opportunities ahead.
  4. Accessibility: Everyone needs help through this big transition. Develop a point of contact in the admissions office and send them questions before and after your visit. Assess how responsive they are at getting your questions answered and caring for your needs. Do you feel as though they are welcoming you into their community and truly want to help your student make a successful transition?
  5. Accommodations: This will be your student’s new home away from home, so it’s important to carefully check out the accommodations. (Mom: It’s OK to ask a million questions here. Your student wants to know the answers too—they’re just too scared to ask.)
  • Living space: Ask to see a dorm room and find out about the campus living options. Would your student be able to pick their roommate if living on campus? Do most students live on campus, or is it more of a commuter college?
  • Food: Eat in the cafeteria and get a feel for the types of meals your student will have. Learn about meal plan options and special dietary accommodations. Ask about other places on campus to find food, coffee and snacks. Are there flex plans to use dining dollars in multiple places on campus?
  • Safety: Be attentive to ways the college is keeping students safe. Do residence halls have professional hall directors? Do dorms require a key or code to enter? Is there good lighting on campus? Does the college—and the community in which it resides—have a good track record of safety and security?

Whether this is your first, middle or last child heading off to school, making the most of your campus visit will equip your family to choose wisely when it comes to your student’s future.

As you make your list of colleges to visit, we’d love for you to spend a day with us at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. At Northwestern, your student will find a community where they’ll be known and valued while developing skills to stand out among their peers and enter the world with courage, character and confidence. Plan your visit today!