Part 10: College – The Big Decision – Where to go?

By Doug Long, Frankfort High School Guidance Counselor


                Every year many college bound students struggle with the question: Where should I go to school? Seniors should consider a variety of factors before making the final decision about the college or university they will attend. Many students and their families make this decision on what they believe they can afford with regard to the cost of attendance. Cost is definitely an important factor, but is not necessarily the only consideration. I would rate the academic programs of the college or university as a top priority. Students need to get the best education possible in the major or program that they wish to pursue. Additional academic considerations include: student-faculty ratio, class size, special programs such as study abroad or internships. Many academic majors are offered by almost everyone. Business, computer science, allied health and education are popular majors. If most colleges offer these courses then how do students choose?

            Many students struggle with the continuous question: Big University vs. Small College? Each institution has its advantages. Large universities can offer a greater variety of majors, more opportunity for special programs and sometimes opportunity for scholarships. Larger universities can also provide college students with greater flexibility in scheduling. Sometimes these advantages can mean larger class sizes and added travel time between class locations. Some students believe that a large school means only being a number. This, however, is not necessarily true. Usually, attending a large university allows college students to be exposed to quality facilities and exceptional faculty, particularly in their junior and senior years. After graduating, college students will have a great opportunity to continue in graduate school.

            Small colleges or universities often meet the needs of the college student who does not want to be overwhelmed. High school seniors typically choose smaller schools because they believe that their education will be more personal. Student faculty ratios tend to be better as well as class size. Often smaller colleges will have a particular major or program that is their specialty. Also, smaller schools often mean a smaller price tag. All high school students going on to higher education need to visit the campus to gain a better feel for the atmosphere.

            Several other factors should weigh heavily on the decisions and question of “Where should I go?” The location of the college may be very important. Factors such as large city, urban or rural, and distance from home should be considered. High school students must also understand that they will be living in a different environment. College residence halls come in a variety of sizes and configurations. Living outside the home may be a completely new experience for a first time freshman. Some may not be accustomed to sharing a room or bathroom. Many first-year college students will be required to live in residence halls. Many other students however, opt for apartment living and some choose to remain at home. Other considerations include: athletics, clubs or organizations, religious affiliation and financial aid.

            I sometimes relate the college experience as a four or five year journey. High school students must consider their choice of college or university as a good fit. Just like a journey, you can walk ten miles in a pair of shoes that do not fit and still complete your journey. You can also travel that journey in a pair of comfortable shoes that fit you perfectly. Students and their parents should be comfortable with their choice of college or university. Sometimes compromise must occur once all the facts are gathered. A student must make the best informed decision possible to obtain the best fit for them.



Additional Resources:


All "College Tips" columns are available at



Making it Count at


Brain Notes College Admissions at


Wired Scholar 


The Princeton Review at


American Education Services (1-304-345-7211; or toll free: 1-800-437-3692)


Mineral County Technical Center at

Eastern Community and
Technical College at (304-434-8000; or toll free: 1-877-982-2322)

Potomac State College of West Virginia University at or (304-788-6820 or toll free:

Your high school guidance counselor