How to Choose a College That Fits

By Brady Charles

So where are you going to college?  No, really, what have you decided?

Is it going to be the campus life, academics, athletics, location, or the cost of the college?

It is now the beginning of April, and time is dwindling for the 2012 senior class members to decide their future school.

According to Todd Cooley from the top five reasons in helping students choose a college are academics, location, cost, size, and acceptance rate.

Number one: The top factor in deciding your college is academics and majors. The school needs to fit your desired major. The first thing you should look at is to see if they have your major, if not you may want to reconsider your options.

“I was being recruited by many schools, but as I looked further into these schools I crossed off all the schools without my desired major,” said senior Marc Summy who plans to major in premed.

“You don’t want to attend a school just to play a sport or for other unimportant reasons, the school you pick needs to fulfill all of your top requirements, including your desired major,” said Summy.

Even though the Penn Manor guard plans to play basketball in college, it’s not going to be the major factor in deciding his school, he said.

Image from What's the Right College for you?
A college classroom

Number two: Where is your college located? Is it a two hour drive from your hometown, or is it a $150 flight from Orlando to your local airport? Some people want to be away from home, but at the same close enough to home that they could make it home in one night if they really need something or just want to see their family. If you’re one of those people, location needs to be at the top  of your priority list.

“My biggest factor in my decision making for college is definitely the cost and location of the college,” said senior Reagan Forrey who is deciding between Millersville, West Chester, Shippensburg and West Virginia.

“I don’t want to be too far away where I’d have to take a plane home, but I don’t want to be too close where I’d feel at home,” said Forrey.

Number three: How expensive is your college? Paying for college is one of the top fears from prospective college students. Not to mention, it is by far the top fear of the parents. Cost of college is skyrocketing in the past decade. As the colleges you look at become more prestigious, the price range rises as well. When a school’s price is out of your range, seeking financial aid is a viable option for many students.

“In this economy I don’t want debt after college that I’d have to pay back afterwards,” said Forrey.

Number four: How long does it take you to get from one side of campus to the other? If it takes you over an hour to get across campus to your class, it may be too big of a campus. You want to be close enough to all of your classes, recreational places or the cafeteria so you don’t have to walk in the rain or snow for an hour to get their. Also, how many people attend your school? Some people prefer to have a small school where you meet everybody and no one is a stranger. Others prefer to have a big school atmosphere, either way it’s your preference.

“When I was picking my college, I took all of my visits to my prospective schools and really thought about the size of each school and how big the campus was. It was a very important factor in my college choice, I would hate to take an hour each day transporting to classes,” said senior Sara Bennis.

Number five: What’s your chances of getting into this school? If the school is out of your range you might not want to send in your application, just to save yourself some money. Know your limits and apply to schools that are in your  acceptance range. You can log onto and search what each school’s requirements are.

“I was really interested in Johns Hopkins University, I was talking to the basketball coach of the school and he was very interested in me,” said Summy. “It is one of the top medical schools in the country, and I want to be a doctor so I was really into it.”

“Then he got to telling me all the requirements I needed to get into the school, and I started to reconsider it, the requirements were insane, and at that point I knew it wouldn’t work,” said Summy.

When it comes time for your choice, using all of these factors will narrow down your choices.