5 Keys to Choosing Your Future College

December 10, 2015

Now that application season is coming to a close, it’s important to start thinking about the next step in the process: final decisions. Choosing where to go to college, on occasion, can be really easy. Dream school? It’s a done deal. But more often than not, graduating seniors are faced with difficult decisions between colleges of similar caliber, or between colleges that have very different resources to offer. Getting straight to it, here are a few factors (besides the typical ones) to consider when you try to choose the right college for you:

Culture

This is a major one, and it’s important to extend this consideration to both school culture and the environment of the surrounding area. How cutthroat is the academic environment? How spirited is the student body? Try to find a campus vibe that you will not only thrive in academically, but also enjoy immensely. Make yourself happy and feel at home while you do.

Weather

It seems trivial, but weather actually has the potential to really affect your lifestyle. Especially if weather is something that tends to significantly impact your mood, you might want to consider staying away from the midwest and northeast. If you love unpredictability and four legitimate seasons, then the southwest will not be the best pick. Weather isn’t a make-or-break factor on its own, but it is definitely something to think about.

Flexibility

Even if you’re walking into college dead set on becoming a doctor, you never know what can happen - plans change all the time. Ideally, you want to keep your options open. Research ease of changing majors and tracks within the schools you are considering, and also keep an eye open for strength of departments. For most students, it’s important to have as flexible, versatile, and well-rounded an institution as possible, just in case you change your mind. If you truly are 1,000% sure of your decision, follow the academic path that’s best for you.

Course Credit

A small (yet practical) consideration is the number of units you can obtain and introductory courses you can skip using your AP and IB tests, community college courses, etc. Especially if course credit makes a difference in the number of years it will take you to graduate, you’ll leap ahead of the crowd and make your way more quickly into your career. However, if you deeply value the full undergraduate experience or don’t mind taking your time to explore and enjoy, perhaps put this one on the back burner and ponder other factors.

Intuition

Let’s say your list of pros and cons winds up even, your general 4-year plans at each school seem completely equal in value, and you’re just plain stumped. Try the old tactic: flip a coin. If you’re disappointed with the result, you’ll know you prefer another school. And if not, then you’ve got your winner. Maybe letting your entire future ride on a mere coin flip is a bit extreme, but nonetheless, don’t underestimate your own instinct - sometimes, one school simply feels right, while another does not.

College students, how did you choose your school? Let us know in the comments below, and sign up for a chance to win our $1,000 scholarship! If you’re still applying, see profiles from students who got into your dream school. Find out how you can too!



Browse Successful Application Files

ssp2020
MIT ‘20


Accepted to MIT, UMich, Rutgers, Cornell, Rice, JHU

computer science / design / music / film
rfkoerner
UMich ‘20


Accepted to UMich, GA Tech, Case, Michigan Tech

I am a hard-working, motivated student, athlete, and performer who enjoys having fun on the side.
vicamit
Vanderbilt ‘20


Accepted to Florida, Vanderbilt, Duke, Emory, UPenn, Miami, Northeastern, UVA, UNC, Georgetown, Rice

Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholar at Vanderbilt and art enthusiast
ltan98
Fordham ‘20


Accepted to American, Fordham, Skidmore, Syracuse, UC Irvine, UCSB

Hi there! I went to an American school in Hong Kong from K-12 and will be starting my freshman year at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in the fall. If you're interested in theater and come from overseas, I would be of particular help to you!

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