March 4, 2019 By College Ave Student Loans

How to Choose a College

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to multiple schools. But how will you choose which one is right for you? You’ve already chosen schools that fit your basic checklist, but now it’s time to narrow down your absolute must-haves and deal breakers.

Here’s a guide to choosing the right college.

1. Determine your 3 must-haves.

What are your top three priorities for a college? Do you want to be close to home? If you’re planning on a specific major, a solid program will likely top your list. But if you’re going in undecided, choose something else that’s just as important. A specific professor? Intramural sports? A downtown scene? Take extra time to list them out.

2. Think about your deal breakers.

What would stop you in your tracks when pursuing a school? For many students, cost and location come first. There are colleges you can afford and colleges you can’t. There’s also a big difference between studying in the heart of a city and pursuing a degree on a small, rural campus. If a school doesn’t even offer a degree that lines up with your broader professional goals, it probably shouldn’t stay on your list. With so many schools now offering personalized experiences like study abroad programs and top-tier internships, you can afford to be tough on your options – the point is to narrow it down to the right fit for you!

3. Consult your inner circle.

Now is the time to lean on your family, friends or other connections to get their opinions. Look for people who have your best interest in mind. They might know something about you that you overlook. Maybe your best friend will ask about the price of downtown apartments when you move off campus. Parents are notoriously great for remembering logistical details that have a big effect on your life. Is there a grocery store nearby? Are there enough coffee shops on campus so you can grab a coffee on your way to class? Start the conversation by asking “What am I forgetting?” and see what they say.

4. Research financial aid options.

You may have already received a financial aid award letter that outlines the cost of attendance for one year, and how the specifics of your financial aid package affect it. Since there is no standard format that all schools follow, it’s up to you to compare them fairly. It can be a complicated, confusing process, but it doesn’t have to be. Our guide breaks down what you need to know about award letters so that you can have a better understanding. A clear vision of your financial opportunities will no doubt play a huge part in your decision.

5. Narrow it down and flip a coin.

Seriously! Once you’ve narrowed down your list to two schools that fit you financially, academically, and personally, give your gut a chance to make the call. It’s a classic trick — flip a coin and let it decide whether you go with option A or option B. Nine times out of ten when the coin is mid-flip, your gut will be leaning toward one of the options, hoping the coin lines up. While we don’t necessarily think you should leave it up to chance, your instincts usually know what the right choice is for you. It’s just important to give them some time to speak up.

Those are some basics for making a decision based on what you already know. You’ve made the incredible accomplishment of being accepted to multiple colleges. Narrowing it down is the fun part! Just make sure you listen to what your head and your heart are telling you.