How to Choose the Right College for You

College application season is in full swing, and that can create a lot of stress if you aren't properly prepared.

Of course, before you can start thinking about your answers to those endless application essays, you need to determine which schools you'll even be applying to (and yes, we mean schools—it's always good to have a backup or two in mind!). But how do you figure out which college is the right one for you? We have a few tips:

1. Love the Location

When it comes to college, location is everything. This will come down to your key priorities, and these can differ entirely from person to person. For example, would you rather attend a school that's close to home (and if so, is it so close that you won't be needing a dorm or just close enough for comfort?) or one that's in a thrillingly unfamiliar city—or even country—thousands of miles away? Do you want to be in a big city or a total college town? And remember, in-state tuition is usually a whole lot cheaper than out-of-state, but going to college might also be your first opportunity to move to that city you've always dreamed of calling home. So, weigh all your options carefully and consider the pros and cons of each before settling on a decision.

Shutterstock: NEW HAVEN, CT, USA - NOVEMBER 3, 2018: Beautiful fall colors outside Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University on November 3, 2018. Sterling Memorial Library is Yale's largest library.

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2. Make Sure They Have Your Major

Okay, so you love the location and the campus looks gorgeous. You're ready to apply when you look at the application and—your major isn't listed as an option. Now is not the time to reconsider that career you've always wanted (if you have one in mind), it might just be time to find a school that does have a specialty in the subject you really want! This goes for extracurriculars as well, especially if a particular sport or activity is important to you. Finding the right club or team can be key to finding your friends for life once you hit the campus as a fully-fledged future alum.


3. Check Their Student Demographics

If you value things like diversity or want to attend a college that is more accepting of people with backgrounds like yours (whatever that may be), you might want to make sure that these values are reflected in the demographics of the college you choose. Some colleges are significantly skewed with having more female-identifying students or are targeted towards people who come from certain economic backgrounds, so you'll want to check this all out before getting there and finding all this out the hard way.

Shutterstock: Freshmen Orientation Concept. Group Of First Year Students With Workbooks Posing Together Outdoors, Panorama With Free Space

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4. Search Their Socials

To get a more realistic, in-depth view of what student culture and life is like at the school you're interested in, there's no better way to do that than by checking their socials. Sure, checking the university's official Instagram, Facebook and other social media accounts can help, but what you'll really want to do is find information straight from the students themselves. There may be some honest reviews online, as well as plenty of posts that give a view of what student life is like outside of the classroom.


5. Cost Counts

And finally, the thing your parents are probably worried most about: the cost. As mentioned above, the location of your chosen university has a direct impact on how much it will cost you, but that isn't the only factor. Cost is an important element to pay attention to whether you'll be relying on loans or not, so take note of the average annual tuition as well as the general cost of living for students. Remember, you won't be eating out of your parent's fridge anymore once you're at college, so you'll have to take things like food (meal plan or not), rent (dorm or not), clothing and extracurriculars into account.

Shutterstock: Miniature graduation cap on hundred dollar bills

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If you're not yet sure where to start, don't stress. Sure, finding the right college is a big decision, but in reality, whichever school you end up at will be the right one for you!

And if you're already getting a head start on those ever-so-important applications, click HERE for some of our top application tips.