How to Narrow Your College Choices

How to Narrow Your College Choices

At this point during the school year, seniors have received most, if not all, of their college acceptances. For some, this choice is easy. Applying to only one school, wishing to attend their parents’ alma mater, or having a “dream school” may make this decision easy for some, but for others choosing a school can propose many challenges. Many factors will influence the choice, so here are some things to consider when deciding which college to attend.  

Gather as much information as possible 

College websites and campus tours offer so much information about what the college has to offer. Some amenities to consider when choosing a school are meal plans, housing, and extracurricular activities. Most schools have similar meal plans and club opportunities, but some may offer differences that can make or break your experience. Housing is also important. Nobody wants to spend their college years in a dingy dorm with no air conditioning. 

Consider pricing:  

College is very expensive, so considering how these expenses will be paid should be a high priority. Schools offer scholarships, grants, and low-interest loans to help cover the cost, but often do not cover full tuition. Scholarship applications that are not affiliated with schools can help cover the cost. Student loans that pay for tuition, housing, meal plans, and textbooks can take as long as 20 years to pay off, so ensuring that there is not an unnecessary amount of money to pay is important. 

Visit the campus at least twice:  

Visiting a school once is an important step when applying for college but visiting a second time can be even more enlightening. If in person campus visits are not applicable, some colleges are offering virtual tours and information sessions to attend. By visiting twice, whether in-person or virtual, unusually poor or good experiences can be filtered through, and decisions can be made based on the school’s true feeling, and not just one bad or good experience.  

Look into different Academic programs:  

The focus for many students in college is academic success. Knowing and considering preferences for class topics, sizes, and structure can also help prospective students decide which schools are a good fit. Most schools have different preferences, so looking into your prospective school’s style is a good way to explore your choices. Some schools offer specific majors and minors for undergrad students, so before choosing a school, make sure they have the programs that support any career goals.  

Consider Safety and Proximity to home:  

For most people, their freshman year of college is the first time they will spend a long period of time away from home and their families. Before moving out, consider: How often will I want to go home to visit? Do I feel safe enough on campus to be there over weekends and breaks? Making sure there is a plan for homesickness or emergencies is something worth considering when choosing a school.  

Research Off-campus opportunities: 

Academics are not the only thing that college is about. During life in college, there will be new experiences, new friends, and some down time to fill with new interests. Before making any decisions, look for things to do off campus and on the weekends, or job opportunities in the area. Although academics are important, social health is important to consider as well. When attending a school in an unfamiliar area, it is important to make sure there are plenty of opportunities to keep you busy. 


No matter what the answers to these questions are, it is important to keep in mind that a college choice is not permanent. Many people think their college decision as set-in-stone, but transferring schools is something that happens every day. All prospective college students should remember that this decision is reversable, so stress over making the right decision can be minimized.