There are good and bad reasons for choosing a college. Affordability is a good reason. The potential return on your educational investment is another good reason.
Unfortunately, many high school students are selecting colleges for the wrong reasons. And what seems to make sense to them now can leave them with a load of regret four years later.
If you are in the process of choosing your school (or the parent of one who is), let’s look at seven bad reasons for choosing a college:
- It’s where my girlfriend/boyfriend is going. It would be wonderful if the boy or girl you are currently dating is the one you will end up marrying. But while it is possible, it is not probable. Choose the school that best fits your budget and needs not their budget and needs. That way if you break up, you are not stuck with a broken heart and a poor return on your educational investment.
- It’s where my parents went. Certainly there are similarities between you and your parents. But there are also differences. And a lot has changed since your parents went to college. The school that made sense for them to attend may not make sense for you. Remember, you are the one that will have to live with the consequences of your college choice. It is fine to consider their school, but don’t attend simply because they did.
- It’s far away. Some want to stay close to home. Others want to escape. While going to an out of state school will get you away from your parents, it often gets you closer to student loan debt. Running away from home can be an expensive endeavor. Consider the financial implication before bolting.
- It’s prestigious. The issue with prestigious schools is that they are often expensive. And if you are unable to get scholarships and grants, you may be paying for that school long after you graduate. Whatever school you attend, consider your return on investment. Does the prestigious school provide something for my career that other, less expensive schools do not?
- It’s my favorite team. First of all, you can still be a fan of a school that you did not attend. It happens all the time. Second, your favorite team can change. Mine did. I wasn’t a Kentucky Wildcat fan until I attended the university. Third, are you really going to make such a significant decision because you like the football team?
- It’s where my favorite celebrity went. Just because one person became famous after attending a particular school doesn’t mean you will. Consider the outcome for the majority of a college’s students and not the minority.
- It’s where everyone else is going. You are not everyone. You are unique. And your college decision should be based on who you are and not who they are.
Choosing a college is an important decision. Maximize the return on your educational investment and limit future regret.
By the way, I get to work with and teach at The College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC. If you are interested, you can check it out here.