How to Decide Which College to Attend

The long wait is finally over and you have heard from all the colleges on your list. Deciding which one to choose may seem like a daunting task, but if you break your decision down and focus on the ultimate goal, graduation and life after college, deciding which college to attend becomes more easily attainable.

When you first started the college process you focused on “fit.”  This is an intangible that is different for each person, but generally includes: location of the college, size of the college, cost of the college and whether the college has your major.

Now you need to focus on what each college can do for you while a student. It is usually very helpful to create a pros and cons list. Create a list that is personalized to your priorities. List factors that you deem important and see how each school stacks up. Some suggestions for the list are:

  • Retention effort What is the school doing to ensure you complete your degree and graduate?
  • Will you graduate on time? What is the average length of time it takes for a student in your major to graduate? There is a huge cost difference if a school can offer you a degree in 4 years versus five years, and you should know this information before you commit to a particular college.
  • The employment rates for graduates in your major. Does your major require a graduate degree?
  • Career services available to you. What quality of services are available to students who are looking for full time employment?
  • Internship opportunities. Does the school offer relevant experience in your field of interest, especially when you are trying to get a job?
  • Safety on campus. What types of safety measures/systems does the college have in place?
  • Academic services. The type of supportive services the college offers and the level of service provided tells you something about how much they care about and want their students to succeed.
  • Average debt upon graduation. You need a handle on this very important information.
  • Does the college environment suit you? Revisit the colleges on your list, at least the top three, to determine which school “feels” right to you. You will look at a school very differently once you have been accepted and are considering attending. If possible, visit with the professors in your major to determine how well you fit into the academic environment at that school.
  • Relying only on the college’s reputation. Just because it is a “highly-ranked” or “prestigious” school doesn’t mean it is the right school for you. Don’t assume the difficulty of getting into the school equates with the quality of education you will receive. Some students need smaller classes and more one-on-one interaction to thrive in a learning environment.
  • The legacy lure. Just because your parents, grandparents or other family members attended a college doesn’t make the school a good fit for you. It is always better to find a school that is the best fit for your personality.
  • Urban vs rural campus can be a deciding factor about attending a school and the experience had while in college. Some students need and benefit from an urban campus where they can go into a city and do other things, things not offered on campus. These students prefer to not be completely immersed in college life. If you attend college in a college town, and that is all there is, you need to be okay with that.

When you start thinking about what is important to you, you are sure to develop a strong list to help you in the selection process. Once you weigh all the factors your decision will be easier to make, and one you will be happy with.

If you have any questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!

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