Are you looking for colleges to apply to? What makes one college superior to another? We could get into the nitty gritty of college scores and statistics, but what will ultimately make you successful in college is your level of happiness, so the question you need to ask is: what will be a fit for me? Here are some things to look for when choosing a college.

We’ve mentioned how institutions like The Princeton Review and The Daily Beast have gone about ranking colleges in terms of their students’ satisfaction; most organizations pay attention to freshman retention rate, which is a good thing to look into. You can find this info with a quick Google search, and it tells you how many freshman came and decided that this college was worth staying with rather than transferring or dropping out. It’s a solid statistic to consider, but here are more tangible things to take into account:

Campus Size and Setting

Are you a social butterfly that thrives in large groups, or do you need a more personal touch? What about rural, urban, or suburban? Rural campuses tend to be self-contained while urban campuses offer entertainment options both on- and off-campus.

Distance from Home

Are you trying to get out of Dodge, or do you want to be closer for visits? Even if you want to stay close, you may want to think about how close. Life in different geographic areas or even different cities are vastly different, so that’s something to consider–what you’ll miss and what new things there are to experience!

Campus Housing and Food

This is only really relevant if you plan on living on campus, but keep in mind that living on campus tends to make students feel more connected to campus life–it’s right outside your door!

So does it matter to you if the dorms have private or community bathrooms? Do the dorms have a kitchen for you to use? How close are the dorms to classes? Are the food options quality, or will they be the source of your “freshman fifteen”? What about the selection; is there enough variety to fend off boredom?


Is diversity important to you? Is the college geared towards your age group?

Cost of College

Have you checked the price tag? Do you have a realistic plan for scholarships, financial aid, and whatever else you’ll need to “make the numbers work”?


Because you’re in college! Is there a selection that has a good vibe? Are they in a relatively safe part of town? And if the nightlife isn’t your cup of tea, what other entertainment options does the surrounding are provide?

Number of Student Orgs relative to the Number of Students

Getting involved in campus life makes you feel more connected to the school and makes new friends! You can follow your passion or create a new one, but make sure that your college has a variety.

Number of Sunny Daylight Hours

There’s an established link between light deprivation and depression. Look up what the sunny hours for your city is, and soak up that sun!!

These are just a couple things for you to consider when choosing a college, but it’s a great place to start and can help you realize where your priorities are.

Additional Resources: “Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers” Video Course

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