How to Decide Which College to Go To

So, how do you make that decision on which of the schools that you have gotten accepted to you that you are going to attend? The list of items outlined below should help you in making your decision. I would suggest that you prioritize what is important to you, and your family, since I always say that although the focus is on you, this is a family decision. Give thought to your SAFE match, Socially, Academically, Financially and Emotionally. Write down your thoughts, break them down and give this decision its due diligence. This is not a decision to take lightly; it’s most probably the biggest one you will have made to date in your life.

A To-Do List to Help You Decide Which College to Attend

You’ve arrived. You have done your due diligence. Decided on which colleges to apply to, have received all of your acceptances and now you have to make the final decision on where to attend this fall, decide on where you will spend your college years. This is such an exciting, and potentially anxiety-ridden time. I am here to tell you that there is more than one college for you. Not just one ideal school that checks off all of your boxes. To think that any one school will check off all of your boxes is naive and will most probably create incredible disappointment when you arrive at your destination and start to experience the day-to-day life of being a college student. The list of things to consider below is meant to help you really think about each school to which you have been accepted and how it fits you personally.

1. Carefully Consider the Cost of Each College

First and foremost, really consider how much you/your family can afford/willing to pay for your college education. If your boundary is $25,000 per year and any of the schools you are looking at are greater than that, think in-depth about how you are going to pay your net cost of attendance. Will you take loans to make up the difference? How much will that total be by the end of your college career (which could very well be greater than 4 years), including accrued interest for the loans you will take out? You need to understand what that monthly loan payment will be once you are out of college and for how long. Think about how you will afford this payment and how it will affect your quality of life. How much will you need to earn in order to pay your loan while living on your own supporting yourself? These are all things to very seriously consider. This is not one of those times that you kick the can down the road.

2. Take Part in Accepted Student Days

If your set of colleges that you are considering offer an accepted students day, virtually and then hopefully in person, take advantage of this. I cannot stress this enough. Seeing your list of colleges that you are considering through this set of eyes is very different than when you were just considering whether to apply. Dig deeper to understand if this college can be your home away from home for the duration.

3. Think About Each School’s Facilities

When visiting the school, how are the facilities, the dorms, the food, the library (yes, you will be spending some time there!)? Keep in mind that this is not your room at home and you will be sharing a room with at least one person your freshman year. It is the right of passage of being a college student. Will it work for you, is the question.

4. See Yourself in the Learning Environment

Can you learn in the environment that this college will provide for you? Are the class sizes compatible with how you learn? If you are considering a large school, can you sit in a class of 300 – 600+ students, learn and be successful?

5. Make Sure the School Offers a Large Enough Variety of Majors

Chances are that you are unsure about what you want to major in. That is completely fine, you don’t have to decide right now what degree you want to have when you graduate from college. Please don’t fret over this. What you do need to take under consideration is whether the college you are looking to attend has a wide enough breadth of majors in which you are potentially interested.

6. Ask Yourself If You Are OK with How Far the School Is from Home

Geographically, have you given significant thought to your desire to where you want to be in proximity to home? Do you want to have the ability to go home on some weekends, or at least have the choice, or does coming home for the first time at Thanksgiving work for you, where it is required that you have to plan and pay for a plane flight?

7. Contemplate If You Can See Yourself Living and Learning at this School

Does the college and the student body have the personality that matches who you are? Does the surrounding community offer what you are looking for during your college years? Is it near a city, which may be important to you, or is it a small town that is welcoming and fulfilling for you? Do you love the outdoors, hiking, skiing, the warm weather? Remember that you are going to live here and although it may not meet all of your requirements, does it meet those primary ones that are important to your core?

These are just some of the items you need to give deep thought to when deciding where to attend and spend your college years. Once you make your decision, don’t look back, Move forward, embrace your decision and begin the excitement of planning your college years. There is no other time in your life like this and taking everything into consideration when pondering this decision is paramount.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone and by email.