As you are likely well aware, making an informed college decision is crucial. Of course, the process of selecting a college will vary from person to person. However, there are some common factors that practically every student should take into consideration.
- This may seem obvious, but eliminate colleges you simply don't want to attend. This means crossing off those schools (perhaps a "safety" school) that somehow made it on your initial list against your better judgment. This will reduce your list and make the college choice a bit easier.
- Proceed with caution if you have not visited the college. If you have not had an opportunity to visit and still have time before the final decision, then get yourself there. It’s not a good idea to accept an offer of admission if you have not seen the college. If you don’t want to visit, then that's probably a sign that the college should be removed from your list.
- Make sure your college has a variety of academic opportunities, especially if you have not decided on your major. You will want to explore different courses and make sure you have lots of options.
- Most colleges have lots of extracurricular activities as well. However, if you have special interests and extracurricular activities in mind, make sure your college has them or that you can find them nearby.
- Consider the location of the college and its impact on your internship/career opportunities, social life, independence, and overall happiness. Everything from proximity to friends and family to notable companies in the area to average climate can have an effect on you.
- Social relationships in college are important, but don’t make a decision based on where your friends are going to college. If your choices happen to overlap, that's fine, but your college decision needs to ultimately be made based on what you need. Remember, your college years will be a great time to make many new and lasting friendships.
- In a similar vein, although your family loves you and wants the best for you, the final college decision should be your decision, not your parents'. If you listen to your parents and it winds up not working out, there could be resentments. Parents should set some boundaries and discuss finances but stay out of your overall college decision.
- Accept a period of transition when you start college. Know that you will grow, learn, and change regardless of where you attend.
- Finances also play a major part in your final college decision. You should discuss them with your family and make sure you know exactly what you and your family would need to pay at each school you're considering. You can call the financial aid offices of the various colleges to see how they can help too.