Jul 23

Choosing the Right College


To paraphrase advice given to an amazing man: with great decisions comes great uncertainty! Ultimately, the choices you make about your education will determine your future. Ominous, isn’t it? While the college decision may seem like one large decision, it’s easier to think about it as a bunch of smaller decisions and questions to be made and answered before you make that final choice. You may have feelings of anxiety or doubt, but just keep in mind that this is also a period of time that will also be filled with excitement and anticipation! 


1.Figure Out What You Want, What You Really, Really Want!


When looking for a college you need to remember that the world is your oyster; there will be plenty of schools that fit your list of needs and wants. You just have to narrow it down to the right ones! So how do you do this? Ask yourself:

What type of environment would you thrive in? 

Campus life varies from place to place, and for some, it can be just as crucial as the academics in shaping their experience. Select colleges that align with your plans and personal preferences.

Do you want to study locally or in a galaxy far, far away? 

You probably have an idea of where you would like to go already, but you need to know if the location is a good fit. Where your school is situated will definitely have an impact on your college experience. There are pros and cons to both choices, so write up a list to see which option suits your goals.

How much are you willing to spend on your education? 

Money, money, money – it’s not so funny when your future is at stake but try to be a little flexible. If you need financial help: 

    • Find out the financial aid options from a few of your selected institutions and compare them. 
    • Search and apply for scholarships through FastWeb or look for special scholarships provided by the institution.

What majors and academic programs interest you?

There are many majors and academic programs out there that you have probably never heard of or given a second thought to. Explore as many options as possible, and you may come across a curriculum that is perfect for you. 

What extracurricular activities do you want?

Extracurricular activities are vital to maintaining a well-balanced learning experience. Look for a school that offers a variety of intriguing activities that will inspire you to learn and grow.

What facilities do you need?

The types of facilities you will need depend on your chosen majors and environment. Make sure that the facilities available meet your standards and adequately support your education.

3. Some Common Misconceptions to keep in mind

Sometimes, people choose their schools based on a few of the things in the list below. They all can contribute to the positive and not-so-positive factors of choosing a school, so it’s entirely up to you to gauge what works for you!

Being a legacy. 

Maybe the school was the perfect fit for your relative; it could also be a great fit for you, or maybe not so much! Try not to put too much weight on legacy when making your college decision. 

The school offers your major.

Let’s create a little wiggle room for you to decide on your major. Who knows, you may change your mind–multiple times! Make a list of possible majors and find a place that will accommodate all.

Whether the school’s party scene is lit. 

Yes, you need to have balance and enjoy yourself sometimes, but make sure to prioritize your academic needs first.


You may be scared off by that super low acceptance rate, but don’t avoid applying because you don’t think you’ll get in! Make the effort, you may surprise yourself– you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!


You may be persuaded by a school for its “high-rank”, “prominence” or “exclusivity”; these things don’t necessarily mean that you will automatically thrive in that environment. Put yourself first in the college hunt; don’t let a school’s reputation overshadow your real needs.

4. Get the Lowdown on your Colleges

Now that you know the basics of what you want (or at least narrowed it down), it is time to begin the hunt. Start compiling a list of schools that meet your personal criteria, and once you have your list of preferred colleges, ask yourself how well you really know them. The manicured brochures or websites are designed to put the institutions’ best foot forward. So how do you get the spilled tea on your prospective schools? Here are a few suggestions:

Read the Campus Newspaper or Speak to a Current Student

Candid conversations with real students and the campus newspaper are excellent uncensored sources of information about the school. Both will give you an honest look at what you can expect. But remember to view this information with an open mind. No campus is perfect, and any two students may have had opposite experiences, so make sure you talk to more than a few. 

Attend A College Fair 

College fairs are fantastic for getting one-on-one time with a lot of institutions in a single location. These fairs allow you to meet with multiple admissions officers and get valuable information in a short space of time. You can find some great questions to ask during your meeting with the admissions officers on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) website.

With the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, attending a college fair in person might not be a good idea. All is not lost though, as the National College Fairs Program and Strive Scan feature virtual college fairs. You will have all the perks of an in-person fair, plus the added bonus of a comfy chair (and secret pajama bottoms).

Visit the School or Take a Virtual Tour 

The best way to get to know the atmosphere and layout of a college is by scheduling online tours or in-person college visits. Because of the pandemic, a physical tour might not be possible, so many campuses, like Princeton University, have virtual college tours. Visit Campus Tours if you are looking to schedule a virtual tour in the US, UK, Canada, or China.

5. Just have fun with it

This is such a life-changing yet exciting process that so many people go through. Everyone’s experience is unique and personal; so try to make the most of it! If you need any additional college-related assistance, contact our friendly neighborhood experts at Tokyo Academics.


Good Luck and Stay Safe!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

As a subscriber, you’ll be the first to know about upcoming events, new course offerings, and success stories from our graduates.