top of page

How to Decide Where I Should Go to College

How do you make decisions?  I bet if you really think about it, you tend towards a few methods.  Maybe you research all possible options.  You rely on data, facts, features and concrete objective information.  Or maybe you go with your gut.  You make decisions based on whether or not if “feels” right.  You read reviews or ask your friends and family – which are subjective opinions from other people – to validate your choices and help you decide.  It might depend on what the decision is, how huge it is, or how much it will affect your life.  

We all base our decisions on a combination of objective and subjective judgment.  We probably have a tendency towards one or the other as our preference, but when making big decisions, it's a good idea to use a healthy combination of both.  

Objective judgment:  your tendency to make decisions based on fact, data, research, numbers, etc.  Opinions and feelings are not considered.

Subjective judgment:  decisions based on your personal perspective or opinion.  You have a tendency to make decisions through intuition, feeling, or going with your gut.

When it comes to big decisions, choosing where to go to college might just be the first big decision your teen will make.  Allow your teen the space to feel all the emotions that go along with this big decision – excitement, fear, pressure, anxiety, indecision.  Also, tapping into both types of decision making processes, objective and subjective, will help them to make a well-informed decision they feel confident about.  So how do you do that?  

Use Objective Judgment to consider the following:

  • Academic programs and facilities. 

  • Distance from home, location in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.  

  • Statistical information about size and demographics of the attendees.  Diversity and inclusion considerations.

  • Student life and extracurricular activities available.

  • Campus facilities and amenities.

  • Career services and internship opportunities

  • Financial considerations, cost of attendance, financial aid/scholarships given

Subjective Judgment comes into play when you actually visit college campuses and consider the following:

  • Pay attention to your gut feeling when you step on campus.  How does it feel?

  • Visualize yourself there.  Can you see yourself hanging out in the student center? Eating your meals with friends in the dining hall?  Sleeping and studying in the dorm rooms?

  • Engage with students and ask them what they love about their school.  You can also read reviews and surveys before you have your visit.

  • Immerse yourself in the experience as much as you can. Try to attend a class, watch a sporting event, or whatever type of experience is important to you. 

  • Trust your instincts.  This will be your home to live and learn for the next four years.  It should feel “right” to you.  And only you will know.

When making the choice of which college to attend, a healthy combination of both objective and subjective judgment will help your teen feel confident with their decision.  Only focusing on the “facts” and data about a school may lead to a logical choice, but it might also lead to a miserable, lonely college experience.  On the other hand, basing your decision solely on the opinion of others, what you’ve heard about a school, or one that simply felt right but might not offer you the academic programming or the financial aid you require isn’t ideal either.  Considering all information – both objective and subjective – will allow you to make a well-informed decision.


bottom of page