During your college search, how did you know which school was right for you?

7 Answers
I really liked my school's campus and it had a great program for my field of study.
I didn't know what I wanted to study going into college which gave me a much wider choice of schools since I wasn't looking to see if they had a good ___ department. Instead of starting with things I wanted about the school, I started with things that I wanted in it's location. I knew I wanted to be in a city, but not one as big as NYC or LA. I narrowed down to a few cities and then I started to look up the colleges in those places. This helped narrow down my search and made it much less overwhelming.
I had my mind set on going to one school, but when I visited campus for the first time - I wasn't feeling it. However, I went to another campus that same day and completely fell in love with. I would definitely recommend visiting a campus because pictures and others' reviews won't do it justice. After all, you're the one that is going there and going to spend a lot of time there.
I think visiting different schools helped me the most in making my college decision. I was actually surprised by which schools I ended up liking after I visited and which schools I didn't. While it's definitely a good idea to do some preliminary research, you won't be able to fully understand a college's student culture until you see it first-hand. The area also played a big role in the school I chose; I knew that I wanted to be in a bigger city rather than a small town, so that narrowed down my search a lot. It's also a good idea to do some research into the specific program that you're interested in and to talk to some students enrolled in it if that's possible, rather than just looking into the overall college.
I honestly did not know what I wanted in a college (other than good academics and a good social life). Because of this, I applied to 13 schools (I don't recommend this). However, I do recommend visiting as many schools as possible, even if they are schools that you are not interested in at all because many schools mirror other schools. Just go in with an open mind, ask people who went to the universities, and talk to college counselors!
As a freshman, it is difficult to know exactly what you want to do. However, if you have a really strong passion in an area, you definitely want to make sure that your school has a program in that field. If you can, visit with some of the professors in that department and see what the program is all about.
Also, pay close attention to the university's reputation. While you can't always trust a reputation completely, it's usually worth it to take into consideration. If the university is known for large parties and Greek life, but that doesn't sound like your thing, you may want to consider a school that better suits your needs. Of course, regardless of the majority population on your campus, you can always find people that you connect with. Yet, if you choose a school that seems completely different than you, it might just be more difficult.
I knew that I didn't want to pay a ridiculous amount for my undergraduate degree. I knew UT Knoxville was the best school for me when I discovered it was "the best bang for my buck." There are many other factors that play into what school is best for you.. but remember that college is what you make it. You'll be successful no matter where you choose to attend.

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