NJIT Researcher Martha Zola Offers 10 Signs To Watch When Choosing an Undergraduate Program

NEWARK, April 30--As college acceptances have arrived many parents and their college-bound seniors have found themselves in the delightful position of making their wishes known. The process returns them to square one, often forcing a period of soul-searching to discern what a school is and what it can offer an individual youngster.

To make this decision easier, Martha Zola, Ph.D., executive director of institutional research and planning at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), recently prepared a checklist of 10 signs for parents and prospective college students to consider. Zola's responsibilities and experience include not only compiling information about NJIT for regional and national accreditation agencies, but also shepherding her own three children through the college admissions process and graduation.

(Note: Zola is available for telephone interviews through May 1. Contact Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436, for more information.)

Ten Signs For Selecting the Right College or University

1. Academic Strength
Professional accreditations, rankings, noted scholars, evidence of research (books and journal articles), honors, awards and other recognitions for a particular program and/or professor make an institution stand out. Such information is usually available on the institution's web site or in publications. The trick is to make sure these strengths relate to your student's career aspirations or chosen field.

2. Core Curriculum
Institutions that ask your youngster to complete a core curriculum demonstrate a commitment to the general education and welfare of a student in the liberal arts and sciences. Such an education is the necessary foundation agreed upon across the higher education community to turning out individuals who are well-rounded people in their professional performance, citizenry, and family and community life. Typical core curriculum classes fulfill three to six credit hours each in mathematics or sciences, writing and literature, history, and in some institutions include foreign language.

3. Teaching and Learning Resources
The best resource in any college or university is an excellent library. In addition, look for the kinds of learning resources, in addition to classes, available to students. Popular aides include learning centers, computing support, peer and/or faculty tutors.

4. Computing Resources
How will the student encounter computers in learning, and how will technology, in general, be used in teaching and learning?

5. Quality of Faculty
For faculty credentials comb course catalogues and/or the institution's website. Signs of faculty development such as a teaching and learning center and/or a program for faculty development activities demonstrate institutional support for excellence in instruction. Look for a process that allows students to evaluate courses, and/or other opportunities for students to provide feedback on the instructional quality.

6. Student Outcomes
Who are the students your youngster will sit with in class? Average or mean SAT or ACT scores and high school class rank, tip you off to the scholarly climate in the dorms as well as the level of competition.

Graduation rates for the college or university and the graduation rate for the department or program a student enrolls in demonstrate that the student will progress to a degree in a timely manner.

7. Career Development Services
Before you spend money to educate your youngster in a field, find out if there will be jobs for them. And, at the same time, what is the success rate of this institution in placing students in those jobs. Note too, the college or university resources available for career development. An office the size of a closet versus an office that takes up two floors of a building can mean some very different outcomes when your youngster goes out looking for that internship or job after graduation. Ask too about career fairs-the number of companies visiting the university, the number of students who come through. Don't forget either to inquire about alumni support: Will alums hire your grad?

8. Student Life
What kinds and varieties of student social, cultural and non-class academic activities are available? What is the range of activities for different kinds of students (interests, ethnic, gender, etc.). How do students rate the quality of student life or provide feedback?

9. Residential Life
What is included in residential life resources? What are the rules and procedures that govern residential life? How does the student influence the conditions under which he or she resides? How is residential life monitored?

10. Governance and Administration
How much say will your youngster have in the governance of the university especially relating to fairness and procedures associated with student rules and policies. What is the organization of the university in general? Most important of all, how can and do students participate in governance of the institution.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

Contact Information:   Sheryl Weinstein
Robert Florida
Public Relations 
(973) 596-3433