Tips for Choosing Colleges to Apply to

June 22, 2017

Following from the previous post on putting together a college list, here are a few tips to consider when choosing colleges to apply to among the plethora of options available.

Making a College List
Making a College List

Now that application season is approaching for our incoming seniors, it’s important to start brainstorming and dreaming up your college list. Choosing where to apply, on occasion, can be really easy. Dream school? It’s a done deal. That said, it can be overwhelming to narrow down and finalize a college list when there are so many brilliant and dynamic options to choose from. So, here are a few factors (besides the typical ones) to consider when you try to choose the right college to apply to. It may just be your future home!

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? Are there any campus traditions that excite you? 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 and aspirations change all the time. Ideally, you want to keep your options as open as possible. Research the 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. That said, if you truly are 100% 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.

Other Opinions

Deciding to apply to a certain college is a big step, and will involve lots of research, school-specific essays, and maybe even an interview in later stages. If you’re unable to visit the college or go on a campus tour, it’s always beneficial to converse with current students - since they can give you an in-depth account of their college experience, and can answer the questions you can’t seem to find on the internet. Maybe the students at one college seem more happy and relaxed than students at another. This is a subjective consideration, certainly, but can make a world of difference when you finally enroll and join the student body.  

Applying to college?
View the app files and essays of accepted students.
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Make sure to search through profiles of students accepted to see essays, stats, and advice. Choosing where to go to college is an incredibly important decision. Make an informed choice by accessing the 70,000+ successful college application files uploaded by college students in our database. AdmitSee is a community of students helping students. See how they got in, and how you can too!

About The Author

AdmitSee Staff
AdmitSee Staff

​We remember our frustration with applying to college and the lack of information surrounding it. So we created AdmitSee to bring much-needed transparency to the application process! Read more about the team here.




Browse Successful Application Files

ArkBuilder
Stanford ‘20


Accepted to Stanford, Wheaton, Pomona

I love languages, exercising, and eating!
tannar2020
Stanford ‘20


Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA

Born in small town, interested in math, science, and literature. Attending Stanford University starting fall of 2016, planning on studying engineering or computer science, with a minor in a foreign language.
NU2018
Northwestern ‘18


Accepted to Northwestern, Emory, WashU, UMich

Hey everyone, I'm a current Northwestern student (Class of 2018, although I may finish up a little early) and I absolutely love it! Admissions really is a tough time, so try to keep your head up and don't be afraid to take chances.
ashleyzo
USC ‘20


Accepted to USC, Dartmouth, Emory, UMich, Rochester, Lehigh, Miami, Alabama, Ole Miss

Hi! I'm a college freshman who was accepted to some of the best universities in the country (most likely due to my essays). Feel free to ask any questions!

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