How Do I Decide on a College?


I hope you’re doing well and enjoying your last semester of senior year if you are currently in high school! The last semester is usually the best semester. At the very least, I hope you’re enjoying no more college applications and the opportunity to just sit back and receive your acceptances!

But how do you decide which college is for you? The deadline to decide is usually May 1st, which is when you also have to give your college your deposit. (Tip!!!: I did not know this at the time, but if you are low-income you can request for your deposit to be waived (if the college hasn’t automatically done it already). It’s always worth a shot to ask! Don’t be like me and just accept a fee that you might not be able to afford lol.) You may have already noticed your classmates around you beginning to wear their college gear, which might just be adding fuel to the anxiety. But not to worry! Here are my tips on how to start figuring out which college is best for you.

1. Financial Aid 🤑🤑

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If you applied for financial aid, this is the most important component of your college acceptances that you are sure to be considering. Which school has given you the most amount of money? Student loans and debt are no joke. In this economy???!! lol. The most important thing to remember is to not take your financial aid award at face value. It might look like School A gave you more money than School B, but how much does School A cost??? Maybe it looks that way, but in reality, once you calculate the cost attendance for both schools, School B actually gave you more money. It’s super important to consider EVERY cost: tuition, board & room, student body fee, airfare, etc. Usually, colleges will include a list of what they will charge you. Paying for college does not only mean paying tuition.

A second thing to note, you can ask for more money!

  1. If you feel that your financial aid does not accurately reflect your family’s financial situation, make an appointment with the Office of Financial Aid. Maybe you or they missed something in your application! It’s always possible.
  2. There are some schools that will increase their financial aid offer if you show them that other schools have offered you more. Not every school accepts this kind of ~push~, but a few do! Ask your counselor about how to best go about asking for more money.

2. Fit!

Did you visit? Or attend an information session? Or know someone who attends that school? Tap into your resources to get the most holistic sense of what attending that school is like. Don’t just ask admission officers, they will sell you the best marketed version of attending school there (which is not necessarily false! but there may be other specific experiences you want to know more about). For a smaller school, you can also usually DM student org accounts to ask their take on the kind of resources their school has provided for them as support. For example, are you first generation? DM the FirstGen@Scripps Instagram account!! Ask them what resources Scripps has provided to them as first-generation students.

Do you know what major you want? If not, that’s okay! But if you do have an idea, look at the school’s major department and their strength. Look at the requirements you have to fulfill to graduate. Maybe a college you applied to doesn’t even have the major you’re interested in and you hadn’t even noticed.

What non-academic resources does the school have? Maybe you’re someone who values mental health. If so, compare their mental health resources. Perhaps you’re someone who REALLY wants Greek life or a strong sports culture (i.e. you want to tailgate football games).

3. ~Ambiance~

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What’s the vibe? What’s the community like? What’s the campus like? Do you want to be trudging through snow from your dorm to your class every winter? Or do you want to feel awe on the rare occasions it rains on campus? Do you want to be in a bustling city, a quiet college town, or the literal middle of nowhere?

What are the dorms like? How big are they and, more importantly, how clean are they? Is housing guaranteed for everyone or is there a shortage?

4. LiStEn tO yOUr HEarT 💗

That sounds super cliché and corny, but it’s true! During this time it’s really easy to start feeling like you need to prioritize what your parents want, what your friends are doing, or what you think people expect you to be doing when it comes to picking a college. You might start feeling like you need to go to the kinds of colleges your friends are deciding on. However, it’s important to remember that you are going after the life that YOU want, not the life that they want! Everyone is on their own path, so it makes sense if you decide to take a different route. Rest assured that at the end of the day, you know what feels right for you.


Keep an open mind! As someone from LA, I never thought I was going to attend college in California. I envisioned the type of campus and location I wanted (east coast school with dark academia type architecture and real seasons). When I visited Scripps, it checked off every box except the location I wanted. If I had stayed super rigid with my criteria and not listened to what felt like the right fit, I would have made a huge mistake!!

Hopefully this helped guide you a little more on how to start thinking about the decision you need to make. Good luck and everything will be okay!