How to Choose Your College

It’s the end of March and you’ve heard back from all of your colleges. You’ve either been accepted, rejected, waitlisted, or a variant of one of those (conditionally accepted, provisionally accepted, etc.). What to do next?

First, put aside the rejections and focus on your options. If your top choice waitlisted you, see this article for tips on how to get off their waitlist and into their freshman class. If you’ve been accepted to your dream schools, congratulations! Celebrate those acceptances and be proud of yourself for all of your accomplishments.

There are, of course, may factors to consider when choosing colleges. Some of them are:

  • cost
  • location
  • social environment
  • academic environment
  • access to resources (counseling center, tutoring, career center, etc.)
  • alumni network
  • diversity
  • religious association
  • greek life
  • sports
  • school spirit
  • study abroad
  • prestige

Sit down and make a list of all the factors that are important to you and then prioritize them. You should have, of course, already done this while choosing your college list; now is the time to get into the nitty gritty. Include parents or those who are funding your education in the conversation because they will likely sway different priorities. It’s also helpful to talk to other resources like admissions officers, students at the different universities, and your college counselor to get more detailed information about each school.

Once you prioritize different factors you can start to narrow your list down.

I would like to note that while I’m a big proponent of getting in touch with your intuition while making choices, I would only suggest this if you’ve visited campuses. Otherwise, much of our knowledge about schools is based on what we’ve heard from other students and parents, the news, online lists, etc. and does not necessarily indicate if this school is a good fit for you.

However, if you are able to visit your top choices, I highly recommend taking tours and going to accepted student days to get a sense if the campus feels good, to talk to students currently attending, and to get any questions answered.

A huge factor in choosing schools is often cost. See this article if you want to appeal your financial aid package because of a change in circumstance or another school offered you a better package.

Once you’ve made your choice, make sure you notify the school and tell the other schools that accepted you that you’re not attending by May 1. Make sure you continue to do well your senior year, because in some cases colleges rescind acceptances for F’s or other behavioral infractions.