Which College Is For Me?

So, we’ve established the fact that you want to go to college after high school.  Awesome!  Now we have to start thinking about what college you’re going to attend.

Many students tell me that they don’t even know where to begin when searching for the right college.  Have no fear, I found a great website with the perfect tool to help you with your college search.  Visit the following website: www.Petersons.com

www.Petersons.com has an excellent search tool that allows you to do a detailed college search using the following criteria to narrow your search:

  • Country
  • State, Region, Distance from Home
  • Campus Setting (Urban, Suburban, Small Town, Rural)
  • Student Population
  • Tutiion
  • Type (Public, Private, 2-Year, Single-Sex)
  • Religious Affiliation

This will give you an idea of all the different colleges that are out there.  Now you just have to take the time to visit their websites and learn more about them.

Other Helpful Resources:

Parents/Other Relatives – What school did they attend?  How did they select the college of their choice?

Counselors – Based on your personality and interests, what college would they recommend for you?

Friends – What colleges are they thinking about attending?  Do any of these interest you?

There are numerous factors to consider when selecting a college that best fits you.  Here’s a list of questions to help you narrow your list down:

1. Would you prefer to attend a large school or a small school?

There are so many options available from tiny colleges with less than 1,000 students to LARGE state universities with more than 35,000 students.  Finding the right match will depend on your personality and academic goals.

The Large State University: Examining Pros & Cons


  • A lot of majors and courses to chose from
  • Experienced faculty
  • Variety of dorms / apartments
  • Diverse sports programs
  • Tons of social opportunities (fraternities, sororities, clubs, etc.)
  • Big campus


  • Very large class sizes
  • Most classes taught by teaching assistants (TA’s), not professors
  • Less interaction with the professor
  • You might get “lost in the crowd”

The SMALL College: Pros vs. Cons


  • Smaller classes
  • Professors teach majority of courses
  • Greater interaction with classmates and professors
  • Niche majors


  • Fewer dorm options
  • Fewer social opportunities (fraternities, sororities, clubs, etc.)
  • Fewer sports programs
  • Smaller campus

2. Do you want to live at home or in the dorms?

For some high school students, it’s an easy decision to move away from home, while for others it may not be that easy.  Let’s examine both the pros and cons of living in the dorms and staying at home:

Living in the Dorms:


  • Experience – The people that you meet and times that you will share with them will be something that you’ll remember forever.
  • Taste of Adult Life – When you live at home, your mom probably does all your laundry and the bills are taken care of.  When you live your own dorm room, you are responsible for taking care of things.
  • Freedom – If you have particularly strict parents, then living in a dorm room will give you more freedom.  However, with that freedom comes added responsibility.


  • Lack of Restrictions – Restrictions may be good for you.  Maybe you will benefit from having a family around you to set limits on how far you can go.
  • Distractions – So much to do, so little time.  Jason’s having a party down the hall, they’re showing a moving in the recreation room, your laundry has to get done, and you have an assignment due tomorrow morning.  Do you have the discipline to handle this?

Living at Home:


  • Save Money – Let’s face it, dorms are expensive.  So, if you are funding your college education on your own and attending a college close to home, this may not be a bad option for you.
  • Easier to Focus – If your parents are 1,400 miles away, some students won’t think about how they’ll react to their bad grades.  So knowing that your parents are just right down the hall, may give you more incentive to study harder.


  • Attachment to Home – The longer you stay at home, the harder it will be to move out after college.
  • Stay in Comfort Zone – If you stay at home, you’ll have no chance to step out of your comfort zone.  Moving into a dorm can be uncomfortable and stressful, but will also allow you to grow as a person.

3. Do you want to go to a school that is close to home or far away?

Advantages of Living Close to Home:

  • Costs to come home for holidays and other family events will be more reasonable
  • Enjoy mom’s home cooking and laundry more frequently
  • Maintain relationships with friends at home

Advantages of Going Far Away

  • Experience something new (geography)
  • Adventurous, social butterfly / outgoing – spread your wings from siblings or family
  • I’m OKAY if I can’t come home frequently

Wow, I know this  is a lot to take it.  You don’t have to figure out all these things at once.  My best advice would be to take your time and carefully evaluate each area.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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