How Do I Decide Which College Is the Right One for Me?

If you’re the parent of a high school senior, your child has probably spent the past several weeks trying to figure out which college offer to accept (Even if your child isn’t at this stage yet, keep reading on for tips that will be helpful in the near future).

It’s a good problem to have, but a difficult choice.

If your child is anything like me, I was big on making lists to help me make a decision. I created an Excel file listing the pros and cons of each school. Despite perfecting that spreadsheet, I still felt torn about which college to go to.

What if I choose the wrong school?!

The truth is: When it comes to making a decision about what college to go to, no decision your child makes will be “wrong.”

Even if they find out halfway through freshman year of college that they want to transfer to another college, it’ll still be a formative, valuable experience.

If your child is still deciding which college offer to accept, here are five questions they should consider:

  1. Does location matter to me? Do I want to be close to home or far away? Do I want to be in a big city or a small town? Can I deal with the weather out there? — As a person born and raised in California, completing a post-graduate certificate program at the University of Michigan’s School of Engineering in the freezing cold weather of February was a shock to my system.
  2. For the major I intend to pursue, do I like what the college has to offer? Do the classes offered seem interesting? What type of research are professors in that major doing? What type of internship opportunities are available for students?
  3. Do I like the social and extracurricular environment of the school? College is much more than just classes. Many students who don’t consider this aspect in their decision making process may have a harder time adjusting to the new atmosphere in college.
  4. What type of jobs are students getting right after graduation? One of the major reasons for going to college is opening doors to career opportunities. Read up on what type of companies alumni work for, what type of career services are offered at the college, and if that college offers post-graduate opportunities at companies of interest.
  5. If cost matters can my family and I afford this college? This is a tough reality check. The allure of a college’s name can sometimes cloud this big financial decision. Each situation is unique and some families choose to go into debt while others try to avoid the debt altogether. For myself, I chose the schools that offered the highest scholarships and don’t regret declining the bigger name schools. I was able to have financial freedom after college. Many of my peers didn’t experience the same .

Deciding where to go to college is a big decision. In the end how your child maximizes their experience at whatever college they go to is what matters more when it comes to having a successful college experience and landing a great career afterwards.

And, if your child is still torn, it might be helpful to remind them that they can always transfer or pursue a different college for graduate school.

For those of you who are not yet at this decision point, I have two live webinars coming up that will help with preparing for college:

Are you a rising high school junior (or the parent of one)? Sign up for my free live online course on  “Three Things You Must Have on a College Application Essay that Most Students Miss.”  If you can’t make it live, the replay will be available, but only to those who sign up. If you know someone who would benefit from this course, feel free to share this sign up link.

Are you a rising high school freshman, sophomore or junior (or the parent of one)? I have a new free training where we'll do a live simulation of an admissions review of a college application called “College Application Review.” In it I’ll walk through a sample of what colleges see when a student submits their college application — we’ll walk through an entire student packet, including an application essay, letters of recommendation and list of extracurriculars. Then, YOU will get to decide whether or not that student should be accepted by the sample college. Ready to participate? Sign up here.

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