Before you know it, May 1 is going to be upon us.

College Freshman T-shirt

For those of you who are going through struggles figuring out which college is the best fit for you, know that you’re not alone. The closer that National College Decision Day gets, the more the stress will build for students nationwide.

The way I look at it, there are four main factors you’ve got to consider:

  1. Cost
  2. Academics
  3. Campus
  4. Social Life

To make your decision easier, make a chart for each topic and write down some notes about each college.

First, we’ll tackle the cost. Obviously, one is going to lead over the others in the amount of dollars you will have to spend to go there. Make sure to factor in any scholarships you’ve received. There’s no way to make a subjective choice on this one … the numbers speak for themselves. Figure out which school wins in this category and by how much.

Now on to the academics. If you know what you want to major in, what do you like about each school’s program? If you’re unsure of what you’ll major in, try to compare the resources available to you as an undeclared student. One important thing to note: Some schools will not officially accept you into a major until after your sophomore year. If you’re worried about making good grades, you should really think about this factor and what you would do if you weren’t accepted into that major. Do you have a back-up major and what is the program like at each school?

A school’s campus is very important because it plays a huge role in your everyday life. Figure out what you’re trying to look for in a school. Is being in a city important to you or do you care if your school is in the middle of nowhere? Do you want the classic “quad” college campus or would you rather be in a more urban setting? Is campus walkable or will you need to take a bus or car to get around campus? These are all questions you’ll want to know the answers to before you make your decision!

Every student looks for something different in the social aspect of college life. To some people, having a large Greek Life population on campus is very important. To others, having winning sports teams is just as important. Whatever your passion is, make sure that it’s available to you at your college of choice. After all, while you’re at college to get an education, you also want to be happy with the programs/activities that are available to you!

Make sure to talk through your decision with someone else – a parent, an older sibling, a friend, a teacher, anyone who has had to make this decision before – and get their feedback. You may even want to share your list with them and see what they think.

Ultimately, once you’ve gathered all of the facts about each school and examined them carefully, you’ve just got to go with your gut. There will be one school that just feels like home. Don’t ignore that feeling!

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