1) The cheapest school.
For many seniors, this is the school that will trip you up the most. Whether your family is helping you pay for college or you're paying for it on your own, going to a school just because it's less expensive than another one you got accepted to is very tempting. This school hides behind the facade of practicality, so much so that you almost forget that it doesn't even have your desired major. Money is an important factor, but not the most important one. Besides, there are always scholarships and other programs to apply for that can offset the cost a school you'll actually enjoy.
2) The college you decided on when you were five.
Maybe you've been in love with a school ever since you can remember but when you toured it something felt off. Still, you're hesitant to let it go. My advice here is to listen to your gut. Don’t worry about not going to the school you've swore you'd attend since you were five. Dreams and reality are different for a reason and interests and needs change as you age. Go to the school that fits your current wants rather than trying to make yourself fit into the fairytale that five-year-old-you dreamt up.
3) The school your family went to.
You can hardly keep track of all the family members that attended this college. Not only that, your parents met there and have been daydreaming about you meeting your spouse in the same place since you were born. The school itself seems all right but you feel like you've been quite literally grandfathered into attending it. It can be hard to tell your family that you're not carrying on their tradition, but you know your needs and you know that this school won't fulfill them. Stop denying what you want for fear of upsetting someone and go to the school you love so much that you almost consider forcing your future kids to go to it.
4) The school all of your friends are going to.
The thought of leaving friends, especially best friends or significant others, after surviving high school together can admittedly be terrifying. It's not wise, though, to pick a college simply because it'll allow you to spend four more years with your friends. No matter how close you are, you and your friends have different needs, so the school that's best for them might be terrible for you. Secondly, all relationships evolve after graduation. That's not to say that you won't continue to love your friends or significant other, but placing the direction of your future in their hands is risky. Be brave. Go to the school that best suits YOU.
5) The school as far away from home as possible
I get it, you feel stifled by your tiny hometown where nothing changes and no one does anything exciting. You just can't wait to leave! You think going to a big city halfway across the country will refresh and invigorate you, but you forget that it can also be overwhelming. Make sure you do a lot of research on a college town before you decide that it’s where you belong simply because it isn’t where you’re from.
6) The school that will make people go "whoa".
It can be really gratifying to be accepted into a prestigious school, but if you're not careful, the desire to impress others can quickly overshadow your desire to pick the school that's right for you. No one ever forgets how it feels to watch someone's eyes widen in awe when you tell them you got accepted into a reputable school, but trust me when I tell you that feeling won't keep you motivated when you're attending a school you don't feel at home in. Go to the school that makes you excited to learn, even if it's a community college, technical school or a lesser known college! The people that have opinions that actually matter will be proud of you for following your dreams, regardless of where you go.
You may end up going to a school that fits into one of the categories, and that's okay! It doesn't matter what college you go to as long as you feel confident in your decision that was (hopefully) made without coercion. Remember that it's totally acceptable to put your wants and needs above the wants and needs of those around you when it comes to choosing what college you will attend. I hope this list helps you evaluate the reasons you want to go somewhere and that it minimizes the chances of regretting your choice later on. Best of luck!
Lead Image Credit: Faustin Tuyambaze via Unsplash