How to Narrow Down Your College Decision

By UW Colleges

Students sitting in cafeteria

During your college search, you may feel a little frazzled. There are so many campuses out there that have different things to offer whether that be majors, transfer plans or student activities. Before your head starts to spin, follow these tips to narrow down your college decision.

Make a List of Wants and Needs

Woman smiling while using computer

What is important to you in a school? Class sizes, programs offered, costs? What about campus life? Determine all of your wants and needs in a school and write them all down. As you are researching potential schools, see if what is offered at each school lets you check off any items on the list. Having this concrete visualization will help organize your thoughts about all the different schools you’re looking at.

Set a Budget

calculator and budget document

Setting a budget is one of the first steps in making your college decision. It is important to sit down with a parent or guardian and discuss how you will be paying for school. The sooner you know the details about your future expenses, the sooner you'll be able to make a detailed budget and research loan and financial aid options. Keep in mind, out of state schools are typically going to cost much more than in-state ones.

Think About Where You Want to Be

Students hanging out in a dorm room

Your future school's location is also an important factor to consider. Is in-state or out of state better for you? Is living at home and commuting to school an option you want to consider? Would you rather live on campus? Think about whether or not you want to stay close to home and what your living arrangements will be. 

Go on Campus Visits

Group of students walking

Campus visits are an important part of the decision-making process. A website or brochure can only tell you so much about schools. Touring campus and hearing from tour guides will give you a much better idea of what to expect. Campus visits also allow you to get answers to questions you may not be able to find online.