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Choosing which school to attend is a big decision. College acceptance letters are typically delivered in March and April, giving you a bit of time to decide before the May 1st signing deadline. But if you have received multiple offers and are having a difficult time choosing which school is the best for you, consider some of these factors in your decision:

Cost and Financial Aid
College is expensive, so it makes sense that one of the biggest factors when choosing a school is cost. Break down the total cost of attendance at each school, and consider what you or your parents will pay in out-of-pocket expenses as well as educational loans, including any interest you may accrue in the future. Total cost of attendance includes tuition, fees, transportation, rent, food, clothing, home furnishings, extracurricular activities, travel, school supplies, and textbooks. Determine if your schedule will allow you to work part-time or within a work-study program to reduce upfront costs. And, apply for scholarships and financial aid to help bring down the cost of school. Search Peterson’s scholarship database that houses over $10 billion in private aid to easily find the scholarships for you.

Location is an important factor to consider when you’re selecting a school. Is staying close to family and friends important to you; or, do you want to move away for a new experience? Do you want to live in a large city or do you see yourself in a smaller, more traditional college town? What about geographical location? Do you want to be near the coast, closer to the mountains, or in the plains? Answering these questions can help you narrow down your acceptance letters.

Housing Opportunities
More often than not, going to college means that you will be living on your own for the first time. So finding a place you’ll be happy in will be important. You’ll want to find something safe, secure, and within your budget. What types of housing do your schools of interest offer? Do they have on campus housing or do you prefer to live off-campus? Do you want roommates or do you thrive living alone? What style of housing will you be more comfortable living in: apartment or dorm style? Make sure to consider your means of transportation in your decision. If you don’t have a car, consider living on campus or close to public transportation.

School Size and Offerings
Look carefully at your chosen major program requirements from each college to see what core classes, credit requirements, and other mandatory elements you need to complete for graduation. Some programs may vary slightly from school to school, allowing you to explore different classes and areas of study such as study abroad or internship opportunities for credit. Another consideration is your future class sizes. If you are more of a hands-on learner, a smaller class size might benefit you more than classes conducted in large lecture halls.

Career Services and Networking
Many larger universities offer closely-knit alumni organizations that can put you in touch with accomplished professionals in your area of study when looking for a mentor or a reference to an application following graduation. Many colleges also partner with prominent companies to offer student interviews and career counseling when it comes time to graduate and begin your job search. You may want to ask about your school’s career services office and their services before making a decision where to attend.

Social Organizations
Is it important to you to have an opportunity to join traditional social organizations like business clubs, the marching band, science club, athletic programs, or Greek life? If so, check that your schools of interest have the organizations you’d like to join as not all colleges offer them.

Ask around
Ultimately, where you go to college should be your choice. But hearing about what campus life is like at a specific college from a current or former attendee can be really insightful. Do you know anyone who is currently attending or is an alumni at one of the schools you’ve been accepted to? What do they have to say about their experience? If you don’t know anybody who has attended, ask around and get a feel for what life is like while you’re on a campus visit. 

Going to college is an exciting time in your life but it’s also a big investment. Make sure you take the time to evaluate your options to ensure you choose the best school for you.

When you’re ready to announce your school of choice, make sure to share the exciting news with your friends, family, and those who support you. And, use #collegesigningday on social media so that we can celebrate you too!