10 Dumb Reasons to Pick a College

Last Updated May 10, 2011 7:25 PM EDT

College hasn't even started for graduating high school seniors, but I've already heard from some of them who regret their college choices.

One senior, for instance, wasted most of his applications on dream schools that he had no chance of getting into. After receiving lots of rejections, he was forced to pick among schools that he considered inadequate consolation prizes. That's a terrible way to start college.

To keep something like this from happening to you, you will want to avoid these 10 dumb reasons to select a college.

1. I must attend a university in a city.

I've heard from many students who only want to look at schools located in East and West Coast cities even though many of these institutions are nearly impossible to get into. Also located in these cities are second-tier schools that can get away with offering terrible financial aid packages because teenagers are dying to live in places like New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Boston.

2. I want to attend a trophy school.

Don't apply to elite colleges that will impress other people if you have no chance of acceptance. What matters is where you go to school, not where you apply.

3. I'm staying in my own state.

Don't get me wrong, some students shouldn't wander too far away from home for college. Out-of-state colleges, however, can sometimes be cheaper than state schools because of generous scholarships and these schools love students from distant zip codes.

4. I'm sticking with a cheap school.

Published prices are meaningless. About two-thirds of college students receive grants or scholarships that shrinks the cost. Always investigate what a school will really cost before eliminating it from consideration. Doing this will get easier this fall with federally mandated college cost calculators.

5. I want to go to a school with winning sports teams.

This one really makes me nuts. Schools that win big bowl games or emerge triumphant from March Madness typically experience a spike in applications. Why or why?

6. I'm going to my parent's alma mater.

Should you go to a college or university because it's a family tradition? Obviously no. Find a school that matches what you need rather than letting your parent(s) relive their college years vicariously.

7. I want to go to college with my boyfriend or girlfriend.

College represents a new beginning and a high school romance can get in the way. When the inevitable break up occurs in college do you want to keep bumping into him/her on campus?

8. I'm going where ever my friends end up.


One of the great things about college is that you will make new friends. And it's a lot easier today to hold onto high school friends through Facebook and other networking sites so don't worry about leaving them behind.

9. It was easy to apply.

I've known students who end up at schools because the application process was super easy. No joke.

10. I want a school with a great college ranking.

Some students -- often egged on by parents -- pick colleges by the numbers. Students make a sport of trying to get into schools with the highest college rankings. If you want to know how inadequate the college rankings are, read this: No. 1 Reason Why College Rankings Are Lame
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
University image by boocal. CC 2.0.

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