Colleges in Utah: What to Consider When Choosing a School

Posted: March 31, 2016 | Author: Savannah Byers | Read Time: 6 minutes

Colleges in UtahWith as many options as Utah has to offer for higher education, choosing a college can be overwhelming. There are many factors to take into consideration from location to transferability. This blog post will shed light upon several of those factors, what features apply to the various colleges in Utah, and help you discover your dream school in Utah.

12 Things to Consider When Looking at Colleges in Utah

Institution Type

Before beginning the college application journey, it is important to know what type of institution would best suit your needs both academically and personally. There are three classifications for higher education: four-year university, two-year college, and technical/trade school. Consider your options, and select a school that would work best for you and your academic journey.

In the public sector, Utah has six four-year universities (Dixie State University, Southern Utah University, University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University), two two-year colleges (Salt Lake Community College and Snow College), and eight technical/trade schools (Bridgerland Technical College, Davis Technical College, Dixie Technical College, Mountainland Technical College, Ogden-Weber Technical College, Southwest Technical College, Tooele Technical College, and Uintah Basin Technical College). In the private sector, Utah has 20 four-year institutions. Learn more about types of higher education institutions.


Many students choose to get a jumpstart on their general education at a community college before switching to a four year university. If you choose this educational path, make sure your credits transfer! Most universities should have a transfer guide or articulation guide for students to reference, or you can check out the Utah College Transfer Guide. Checking for transferability ahead of time will help you avoid retaking classes, and save you time and money in the long run.


While reputation is not everything, it is an important consideration when choosing a college to attend. Explore reputation by researching the basics: What is your school known for? How long have they been around? What have they accomplished? What are their goals? Research who the leaders are, who the professors are, who the students are, and who the alumni are. You can get a sense of these things by exploring the institution’s website and brochures. Find what kind of message they are putting out, and if you agree.

Academic Rigor

Academic rigor refers to the expectations and outcomes surrounding student academic performance at an institution. The academic rigor of a university can be perceived through things like acceptance rates, average incoming grade point averages and test scores, the mission and vision statements put forth by the university, and university and program rankings. If academic excellence is something important to you, look into these things. Explore websites such as U.S. News and World Report, Colleges of Distinction, etc.

Student Enrollment

Student enrollment affects almost every aspect of the university, but especially undergraduate, general education. With higher student enrollment, there is a greater variety of general education course offerings on the whole. With smaller student enrollment, the faculty-student ratio is often smaller. The faculty-student ratio affects opportunities for personalized education and relationships with professors. Everybody has a different preference when it comes to university size. One is not better or worse than the other, it all depends on you and your preferences.

Majors and Programs

If you have a good idea of what you’d like to study, look into the majors and programs offered at your potential schools. Standout programs will showcase things like awards and accomplished professors on their website. Some university programs may have unique opportunities for practicums, labs, and performance experiences. Universities may also have alternative general education programs. If you want a jumpstart on your college education, look into programs such as study abroad and summer semester.

Tuition and Fees

You can’t go to school without money, so it is important to consider tuition prices. In-state tuition is cheaper than out-of-state. Bigger universities tend to be more expensive than smaller institutions. Scholarship availability may depend on which school you choose. Everything adds up fast. Fees and other expenses are also important to consider. These can include things like parking passes and campus/community events. Set up a meeting with financial aid representatives from your top schools to get a better idea of how much college will actually cost.


Location, location, location! What works well for other people might not work for you. Be selfish when it comes to location and attend a college in a place that you enjoy. How might location affect what you're studying (i.e., practical experience and job opportunities)? Is being near family and friends a priority for you? Is your school near the things you're interested in? Ask yourself these questions as you consider where to attend school. The location of your school can also affect the overall cost of college. In addition to researching colleges, research their locations. It's an important factor.

Student Involvement and Leadership

Getting involved on campus is a quintessential part of the college experience. Not only is it a great way to meet new people, but it’s also a great way to build your resume. Opportunities for involvement and leadership can fluctuate from school to school. Larger universities may have more established clubs and organizations. Smaller universities may have more accessible opportunities for leadership. Think about how you would like to get involved and do some research.

Housing Options

Choosing where to live is one of the biggest decisions students will make in their collegiate journey. Housing options will vary by university, city, and marital status. While there are more housing options in bigger cities, smaller towns have more affordable housing options. But, university growth tends to affect housing in smaller cities more than larger cities. Many dorms, apartments, and houses for college students will have in-person and virtual tours available. Contact the property manager to learn more about the unit(s) you’re interested in.

Graduation Rates

It’s always a good idea to research graduation rates while choosing a university. Explore university graduation rates as a whole and graduation rates for the program you're interested in. However, low rates can mean that there are a lot of students who transfer out of the school or do not complete their degree. So, don’t be deceived. Along with graduation rates, also consider looking into passing rates/scores for different tests. If you’re going to be a teacher, you might look into Praxis pass rates. If you’re going to be a doctor, you might look into MCAT pass rates.

Job Placement

It’s important to consider how many graduates are actually hired after graduating. This rate can make or break your college decision depending on which field you’d like to work in. Job placement is especially important if you have your heart set on a specific career. Attend a school that will help you get a foot into your chosen workforce.


Utah is a great state to attend college. There is something for everyone in Utah- Utah colleges are fairly inexpensive compared to the rest of the country; Utah is a great location with all four seasons; Utah is home to several National Parks; and Utah has a lively, professional theatre scene.

There are a variety of colleges in Utah, for more information visit the Utah System for Higher Education.

This article was published more than 5 years ago and might contain outdated information or broken links. As a result, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

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