How NOT to Choose a College

When it came time for my friend’s daughter to pick a college, she had no idea where she wanted to go.

…even though her mother had taken her on dozens of college visits her junior year.

So her guidance counselor suggested she just apply to 10 schools she MIGHT like to attend. She did and got accepted at all 10!

Her father was ecstatic that one school was his alma mater, the state university. As she started looking at each college she decided one by one where she did NOT want to go and finally narrowed it down to two colleges–the state university and a neighboring state university.

She chose the neighboring state university because that was where her boyfriend was going.


Danger, Will Robinson!  

You can guess what happened next – they broke up on prom night.

Under no circumstances would she go to the school she had selected. She absolutely refused to go to the school where “he” would be.

There was only one problem: She had already notified all the other schools and turned them down.

The father contacted the President’s office of his alma mater with a letter that started out “My daughter is a noodlehead…”  After much begging and pleading the State University took her in.

Crisis averted, but just barely!

As my friend was telling me this story, I thought “There but for the grace of God, go I.”


Love abounds.

How many times do girls make decisions based on their boyfriends—or vice versa.

This I know for sure:

College admission should be based on anything but the current relationship of the day.

Taking a poll of my close friends, here’s how their kids decided on their #1 Choice:

  • Several picked a school unlike their high school. If they went to a large high school, they picked a smaller college or vice versa.
  • Most visited no less than five colleges by senior year and picked the campus that they had a “gut” feeling about.
  • A few studied the curriculum at the colleges they liked to see if the college offered the courses they wanted to take.
  • Some chose their college because their friends were going there.
  • Some chose their college because their parents went there.
  • Some wanted to be in big city; some wanted a college town atmosphere.
  • Many made their decision on financial aid and scholarship opportunities.

So there are all sorts of reason for picking a college. There is no right or wrong way to do it.


Fun!  Fun!

I know a high-school counselor who has to deal with stressed-out parents and students on a daily basis.

He tells me that a choice of college shouldn’t be a stressful process. Most colleges are the “right” choice for most students.

And in most cases where the choice of college didn’t work out, it was impossible to know ahead of time.

My hope for you is that you have as much fun as I did during this process. Yes, it was sad to think about my daughter leaving home, but it was also exciting to think about all the fun she was going to have during her college years.

I tried very hard to transition from directing her decision to simply advising her and offering her options to consider.  She picked my last choice, but it turned out to be her best choice.

Imagine that!

I hope your experience is as much fun. I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section.

Good luck, and keep your sanity!

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