I asked a school counselor once what she deemed to be success with regard to her students’ college applications. Her response surprised me.  She said, “That a student be accepted to by two schools. Being able to choose makes a huge difference to a person.”  Brilliant. 

Many of you, gratefully, are experiencing that opportunity of being able to choose—which brings with it the requirement to decide.  It can become confusing. 

These factors to consider, and those that do not deserve consideration, might help you work through to a college decision.

Factors to consider:

  • Where will you grow the most?  This is the single most important question and deserves the most weight in your decision.
  • Where will you be surrounded by equal or more motivated peers than yourself? Can you envision them as life-long friends?  Will they motivate you to be your best? Who your peers are is huge.
  • Where will you be challenged by opportunities presented — by faculty, by peers, by the administration?
  • Of course, what are you interested in academically?  Which school provides for your academic interests?
  • By the way, small does not mean fewer options. A small college can mean greater involvement with professors, which leads to unanticipated opportunities. Engineering is a bit the exception…but even that is taken care of by +2 programs.
  • How engaged is the alumni?  There’s a rating of alumni giving by US News.  If alumni are giving then they found value in their college experience.
  • Physical location — urban verus rural is more important than geography. Planes take us places quickly, as does Skype.

Factors unworthy of consideration:

  • Where are your friends (including girl/boyfriend) going?
  • Where does it feel “comfortable”?  
  • Where you fear that there doesn’t seem to be much happening on campus; it’s too quiet. This is hugely misleading.  There is nearly always an inordinate amount of stuff going on, if you choose to become involved. If unconvinced, make the effort to talk with students who are on campus now.

College is probably the only, or certainly one of the rare, times in life to reinvent yourself.  You can be whomever you want to be.  Choose a place that helps you be that person.

Enjoy your decision! (and be comforted to know that nothing is “forever”… 40+% of college students today are transfer students).