Choosing a College Checklist: How to Arrive at a Decision

St. Agnes Academy
College admissions season is here, and so is our Choosing a College Checklist. Learn about some of the factors to keep in mind when deciding which college offer to accept.
You did your research, applied to schools, and waited patiently for your admissions decisions—now what? If you’re lucky enough to have been accepted to multiple colleges, you might be facing some tough decisions in the coming weeks. How do you know you’re making the right choice when it comes time to narrow down your final college selection?

At St. Agnes Academy, we encourage our high school students to cast a wide net while applying to colleges to maximize their chances of ending up at an institution where they can thrive. Sometimes, this results in students having to make big decisions. As difficult as the choice might be, having multiple college options is a pretty good problem to have.

To help streamline the decision-making process, we’ve put together this handy guide to help students compare their college options. Using our Choosing a College Checklist will help you feel confident as you enter the next phase of your academic journey.

The St. Agnes Academy Choosing a College Checklist 

During the initial stages of your college search, you likely utilized criteria to help you determine where to apply. By the time the acceptances start rolling in, you’ll want to establish a new set of more specific criteria to help you choose which offer to accept.

If you have several different options on the table, you can afford to be more selective when making your final decision by looking at your college options through a more “nit-picky” lens. 

Here are three of the major factors you will want to carefully consider when making your final college decision.

1. Academic Rigor

If you have been accepted to multiple schools that offer your intended degree program, you’ll want to take some time to research and compare the specific academic offerings at each institution.

For some fields of study, you will also want to look at statistics like graduate school acceptance rates and average scores on tests like the GRE, LSAT, or MCAT.

If you plan on pursuing higher degrees after your undergraduate studies, it is particularly important for you to enroll in a program whose students consistently demonstrate high test scores and competitive graduate acceptance rates.

2. Financial Aid

One of the most pressing considerations for many students and their families is the availability of scholarships and other financial aid at each school on their list.

Every student’s financial situation is different, but students who plan on using financial assistance when funding their college education will want to carefully compare the financial aid packages offered to them prior to accepting an offer.

Choosing a college has long-term financial implications for students and parents alike. So, it is highly advisable that families spend time candidly discussing the realities of their financial situation to make a well-informed, mutually beneficial decision.

3. Campus Culture

In addition to shaping young people professionally and academically, the college experience has major implications for students’ social development. Subsequently, students will want to think about whether each of the colleges on their list might be a good fit for them personally.

For example, some students will want to choose a college where they can participate in specific student organizations or extracurricular activities. You may also want to be actively involved in cheering on the various athletic teams at your chosen college.

On the other hand, some students may prefer to attend a school where things like athletics or Greek life do not play a significant role in campus culture. Scheduling a campus visit can help students get a clearer picture of what student life looks like at a given institution.

Some schools even offer the opportunity to attend mixers or other orientation events to gain insights from current or past students.

Need Help With Your College Choice?

When it comes time to make a college decision, students and their families must consider a myriad of factors. In many respects, choosing a college often comes down to matters of personal preference. But there are data points about each school that can help narrow down the list and take some of the guesswork out of the decision-making process. 

If you are currently working through the decision-making process after finding colleges and need some help putting things in perspective, the St. Agnes College Counseling team is here to help.

We would be happy to discuss the Choosing a College Checklist with you so you can feel confident in your final college decision. Reach out today, and let’s get you on track for a fulfilling, enriching college experience.