The Do’s and Don’t’s of Choosing a College

By Amanda Bertsch

By May 1st, all of this year’s college-bound seniors must submit their intent to attend the college of their choice, along with a housing deposit. Many seniors have already made their choices, but some are still trying to decide. If you’re in the latter group (or you’re dreading making that decision in a couple of years), read on.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a college, but some students consider the wrong things. Avoid making a bad choose by following this advice:

Do:
1. Consider the location: location isn’t the be-all, end-all of your college experience, but it is important. Do you want to be in a city or small town? Are you comfortable with being far from home? Ask yourself if you’re willing to spend four years or more in the area of the college.
2. Consider the atmosphere: if your scores were a little low for a college, and you feel like you got in by the skin of your teeth, that college could be very competitive for you. Conversely, if you’re an excellent student, a college with rather low admissions standards might not be the most stimulating place for you. There are always exceptions on both ends, however.

3. Research the school: this place will be your home for several years, so make sure you know what it’s like. Look for degrees in areas you’re interested in and read all the student reviews you can find, negative and positive. Get to know the school.
4. Go visit: the best way to see what a school is like is to go there! Take a tour, sit in on a class, and have a meal in the dorms. See if you can visualize yourself as a student there.

Don’t:
1. Follow your friends: sure, you may be extremely close with your friends or significant other, but that doesn’t mean you should choose a college based on where they’re going. There are always Skype calls and road trips, both of which are infinitely preferable to hating your college.
2. Let your parents pick: Mom might be really excited about Stanford, or Dad might want you to stay in-state. However, neither of them is going to this college. This has to be your decision as the student, because you know what you’ll like best.
3. Choose based on prestige: you could get into MIT, visit, and decide you’d prefer ASU. There’s nothing wrong with this! The college with the lowest admissions rate that lets you in isn’t necessarily the best fit for you.
4. Choose aesthetics over academics: this should be fairly obvious, but it’s still worth saying: appearances aren’t everything. Don’t pick a school because of its colors, or campus landscaping, or student body’s looks.

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll make a well-informed college choice!

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