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Smart Tips to Choosing a College


So, you’ve been accepted to college—congratulations! No more gathering transcripts, asking for recommendation letters, stressing over application essays (and running them through a grammar checker), or waiting for responses. But choosing where to go to after you’ve gotten in can be a difficult decision. After all, different schools have different perks, and even if you’ve already done extensive research, it can be tough narrowing down a list to just one place.

To make the process a bit more manageable, we are criteria you can take into account when figuring out where to go.

Consider the Financial Aspect

College costs a lot of money, and there’s no reason school price shouldn’t factor into your decision. You shouldn’t make the decision based on price alone, but if you get a scholarship to one school and not another—or if one institution is private while another is public—that information is worth taking into account.

Visit the Schools

While it won’t always be possible to visit every school—due to time, distance or money—visiting your top choices is a great way to decide if they’re really be right place for you. Oftentimes, you get a feeling just from visiting a place. Visualizing the campus’ layout and the students without actually stepping foot on campus is challenging, so try to find a way to visit in person if you can.

Talk Out the Decision

Discussing your thoughts with family or friends might be helpful, but talking out the decision to yourself could also prove a helpful strategy for determining the right choice for you. You also might want to write out your thoughts on Post-It notes as you go, if you’re a visual learner.

Speak With Current Students

Talking with students who currently attend a school can go a long way toward determining whether that’s the place for you. While reading in guidebooks and online information can help you get an idea of what a student’s experience might be like, there’s no substitute for talking with a student over the phone or in person. Connect with someone from your high school who’s a current student at that college, or if you don’t know anyone who goes there, ask your regional admissions officer if they can put you in touch with an enrolled student.

Go With your Gut

Although it’s best to make an informed decision after conducting research, you may find yourself pulled toward one school, whether it’s for the academic programs or because it just felt like the right fit. If you still feel conflicted after making a pro-con list, go with your gut—do what you think is right, taking into account criteria including strength of academic programs, money and social experiences.

Take Your Time

For most schools, you have until May 1 to say whether or not you’re coming, a full month after the latest acceptable letters come in. There’s no problem with waiting until May 1. Deciding where to go to college is a big decision—after all, you’re planning to spend four years at that institution. There’s nothing wrong with taking that month to mull things over; there’s no perk to accepting an offer in early April.

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