Five fluffy puppies in a wicker basket, all looking nearly the same as one anoth

How to Choose Between 2 Similar Colleges

You've cut your final college list down to two, but they're both so similar! Here's what you should consider if you're having a hard time deciding between schools.

Choosing a college is hard enough, but choosing a college over one that is strikingly similar is another level of difficulty. Here’s what you should consider if you are having a hard time deciding between two final college choices.

Affordability

The first step is determining affordability. Oftentimes people think that public schools will not be much of a financial burden, but that may not be the case. Major public universities, such as Missouri State University and the University of Iowa, are preparing to face budget cuts. States are trying to account for budget gaps, and universities are easy victims because their losses can be made up through increases in tuition and fees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

With rising college prices, you need to understand how you can pay for college. Questions I asked myself included the following: 

  • Do I want to take out loans? If so, will I be able to repay them in a way that I am comfortable with?
  • Am I going to pursue education after my undergraduate degree? If so, will my graduate studies occur immediately after my undergraduate career or a little later?
  • Are my parents willing to help me out with the cost?
  • Can I handle having a job while being in school? 

Comparing your financial aid awards is an important piece of this puzzle. If you really can’t decide between two schools, it may be wise to choose the one that offered the better aid package for you and your family.

Career development

If financial aid isn’t a deciding factor, there are many other ways to make this tough choice. Another important aspect to consider is the opportunity to grow as a person and as a professional. Great student organizations allow you to see if you will feel a connection toward the school. Furthermore, a good internship program or other career-orientated activities can ensure a thriving future after college.

Related: 9 Reasons to Use the Career Center Before Senior Year

Community

When I was visiting schools, I also tried to look at the people. When I visited my current school, the people seemed extremely friendly. In fact, the tour that I took at Quinnipiac University was the only school that I left a tour guide evaluation form for. You will be making friends and potentially dating people at your school, so it is a subtle but wise factor to consider. Having good friends is quite helpful when you are stressed over finals. By staying overnight at the school, you can understand the social climate even better. Maybe you will see that the two schools you are stuck on are not that similar after all.

Academics and class size

While clubs and friends are important, you ultimately go to college to learn. A critical part of the learning process is the professors. How personable are the faculty? How engaged are the current students? Is the material presented in a preferable manner? You can find this out by sitting in a class. When I sat in a class at one of the schools I visited, I did not like how there were so many students. I felt like I was not important and that I would become just another face in a crowd. But if you prefer lecture-style classes (or if you plan to skip a lot…which you shouldn’t!), perhaps a bigger class is perfect for your needs. Also consider campus size. A close-knit campus may not only be beneficial for your grades but for your time as well. When you are rushing for class, a huge campus may not be the best option.

Related: 7 Perks of Attending a Small College or University

The lesson is: compare everything. Nothing is too tiny of a factor, because you will be spending quite a bit of time at your college. Weigh the positives against the negatives. The only way you will find out which school is best for you is by being proactive. Conduct research and immerse yourself in the environment, because the goal is to avoid transferring. 

How did you make your final college choice? What did it come down to? Let us know on social media!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
choosing a college college list final college decision the college search

About Afsha Kasam

I was born and raised in Albany, New York. I enjoy writing and reading, which is why a major in Strategic Communication both challenges and excites me. In my spare time, I love to write fictional stories and journalistic accounts. I also have a weakness for chocolate.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

Priscilla Yeboah

Priscilla Yeboah

None

Throughout my search for colleges I was afraid and timid, but I finally found the college that was fit for me, and luckily, I got accepted. One of the most influential things that’s helped me a lot was the articles and advice on CollegeXpress. It’s helped me a lot and benefited me as a senior to make the right choices in life. Thank you!

Lexie Knutson

Lexie Knutson

High School Class of 2021

This whole website has helped me overcome the attitude I had before. I was scared to even approach the thought of college because it was so much. I knew it wasn’t just a few easy steps, and I panicked mostly, instead of actually trying. Without realizing it, CollegeXpress did exactly what I usually do when I panic, which is take it one step at a time. With college I forget that because it’s more than just a small to-do list, but this website was really helpful and overall amazing. So thank you!

Khush

Khush

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress is a multi-maneuver platform that has been helping students in their college applications and scholarship hunt process. For me, CollegeXpress has been a boon. I've been able to find my dream university via CX, and I've also been able to apply to thousands of scholarships through it. All the thanks to CollegeXpress for doing such a great job for free. I express my sincere gratitude to you for doing such a wonderful job. I recommend CollegeXpress without any reservations.

Rayan Hamdan

Rayan Hamdan

None

I joined CollegeXpress just a few months ago. I had been struggling with severe anxiety, causing me to not be able to tour schools and make sure a college would be perfect for me. I came across CollegeXpress one day when I was searching for colleges online, and it completely changed the game. I was easily able to choose colleges that would suit me, and I also entered a few giveaways! Thank you so much!

College Matches