8 Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

About this article
Selecting the right college to attend is a very tough and very important decision. This article includes information on different factors to keep in mind when choosing the best college for you.
View available schools

While high school is tough, college is tougher. One of the first major choices for you as a young adult is your university or junior college; a decision that will affect the next several years of your life. While most students take parental desires, location of friends and university costs into consideration, there are also other equally important factors that should not be overlooked in the decision-making process.

Ideal Environment:

College isn't just a place for intellectual development--it is a place for social and personal development as well. Your level of involvement is an integral part of the experience so you should carefully consider the social aspect of any schools you're considering.

Distance from Home:

For many students, college can be a time of exploration. However, for other students, 'Home' is where the family is. Decide whether you would benefit from a new environment and people with backgrounds different from yours, or if you are more likely to thrive in a secure and familiar setting.

Commitment to Major Field:

Don't choose a college because of its reputation for specific programs unless you're strongly committed to one major. If you're likely to change your mind a few times, choose a school where you can take time to explore all your options.

Curriculum:

Some people perform better and learn more in a college that has a core curriculum or a number of requirements for graduation while others prefer exploring new fields on their own. Will you benefit from a structured curriculum, or do you want to develop new interests in your own time?

Academic Pressure:

More often than not, students fail in college due to the academic pressure--a lack of intellectual ability is rarely the problem. Evaluate carefully what the colleges you are considering expect of their students and how much you want to be pushed. Here's one tip: select a college that has an SAT or ACT average similar to your own to ensure that you are on the same page as the rest of the student body.

What's Important to You:

Do you care more about a college's prestige, its standpoint on religion or its tolerance for a student's personal values? Colleges that blend both values and prestige tend to be either extremely small, extremely selective or both. The best way to assess the school's values is to explore the demographics of the student body. Find out if students volunteer, if the school offers courses in ethics or if the teachers encourage cooperation over competition.

Location:

Do you thrive on the excitement and adventure of the city? Or do you feel more secure in a rural area? Are you a sun-worshipper or do you hide indoors at the first sign of snow? Although your surroundings shouldn't be the deciding factor, they are a definitely important when determining where you'd be the most comfortable.

Institutional Size:

Although some people are adaptive enough to fit in at either a large or small college, most people find that one size will fit their needs better than another. A large college can be exciting, but lonely; a small college can be friendly, yet stifling. If you learn best by listening and observing, a large college might be best for you. Conversely, a small college will offer more hands-on training, but less diversity in curriculum.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
      • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
      • Master of Arts in Economics
      • Master of Public Administration and Policy
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Human Resource Analytics and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
      • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
      • DBA: Healthcare Management
      • DBA: Marketing
      • DBA: Project Management
      • DBA: Human Resources
    Master's
      • MA: Communication
      • MA: Professional Counseling
      • Master of Arts in Public Policy - Public Administration
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Developmental Psychology
      • MA: Applied Psychology: Industrial Organizational Psychology
      • MA: Human Services Counseling: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Trident University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
      • Health Sciences (Ph.D.)
      • Doctor of Business Administration
      • Educational Leadership (Ed. D.)
      • Educational Leadership (Ph.D.)
    Bachelor's
      • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
      • Business Administration (BSBA)
      • Human Resources Management (BSHRM)
      • Homeland Security (BSHLS)
      • Information Technology Management (BSITM)
      • Leadership (BSL)
    Associate's
      • Professional Studies (ASPS)
    Certificate
      • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
      • MS - Game Design (Campus)
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
      • M.S. - New Media Journalism
      • Master of Fine Arts - Creative Writing
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • BS - Creative Writing for Entertainment (Campus)
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • BS - Media Communications (Campus)
      • BS - Computer Animation (Campus)
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Walden University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
      • PhD in Criminal Justice - Online Teaching in Higher Education
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Evaluation
      • PhD in Education - Learning, Instruction & Innovation
      • PhD in Psychology - Teaching
    Master's
      • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
      • MS in Education - Self-Designed
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Literacy (Grades PreK-6)
      • MS in Education - Elementary Reading & Mathematics (Grades K-6)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics & Science (Grades K-8)
      • MS in Education - Mathematics (Grades 5-8)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
      • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
      • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Clinical Microbiology
    Bachelor's
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
      • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Independence University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Information Systems (MS)
      • Nursing Administration (MS)
      • Nursing Education (MS)
    Bachelor's
      • Accounting (BS)
      • Business Administration (BS)
      • Business Administration - Human Resources Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration - Marketing Emphasis (BS)
      • Business Administration - Technology Emphasis (BS)
      • Health Services Management (BS)
    Associate's
      • Medical Assisting (AOS)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
    Master's
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • M.A. in Reading with an Emphasis in Secondary Education
      • M.Ed. in Early Childhood
      • M.Ed. in Special Education: Cross-Categorical
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)
      • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
    Master's
      • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
      • Master: Legal Studies
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master of Public Health
      • MBA: Human Resources
      • MBA: Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Liberal Studies
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BSBA - Investment
      • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
      • Bachelor: Nutrition Science
      • Accelerated MS in Finance Option
    Associate's
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • AASBA in Food/Hotel Management
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Accounting
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
      • AAS in Information Technology - Multiplatform Software Development
    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting Certificate
      • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
      • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
      • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Florida Tech

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master's in Business Administration/Management
      • MA in Organizational Leadership
      • MS in Information Technology/Database Administration
      • Master's in Business Administration
      • Master's in Business Administration/Accounting & Finance
      • Master's in Business Administration/Finance

Featured Schools

American University

  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication
  • Master of Arts in Strategic Communication - Advocacy and Social Impact Concentration
  • Master of Arts in Economics

What is your highest level of education?

Liberty University

  • Doctor Of Education - Leadership
  • Doctor of Education - Curriculum and Instruction
  • MA: Communication
  • MA: Professional Counseling

What is your highest level of education?

Trident University

  • Business Administration (Ph.D.)
  • Computer Sciences (BSCS)
  • Professional Studies (ASPS)
  • CMCB - Certificate in Medical Coding and Billing

What is your highest level of education completed?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
  • BS - Sportscasting (Campus)
  • Bachelor of Science - Software Development

What is your highest level of education?

Walden University

  • Doctor of Education (EdD) - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment
  • PhD in Criminal Justice - General
  • MS in Education - Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment (Grades K-12)
  • MS in Education - Self-Designed

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Independence University

  • Information Systems (MS)
  • Accounting (BS)
  • Medical Assisting (AOS)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
  • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education?