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For many high school seniors, late winter and early spring represent decision time. If a student was lucky enough to gain acceptance to several colleges, it’s now time to make the pro-and-con lists that will hopefully lead to a tuition deposit that makes the most sense.

Where to start with those lists?

A 2017 survey by consulting firm Eduventures found that more than 70% of admitted students name their final selection criteria as one of these six factors:

  • affordability
  • availability of a desired program
  • reputation/academic quality
  • career outcomes/job opportunities
  • value of education for cost
  • feeling of fit

This list is a helpful organizational tool. Make objective and honest lists regarding each of these factors. 

And consider one more: size of the college. If strong relationships with faculty members are important, seniors might want to think carefully about the school’s enrollment. Large schools don’t always equate with meaningful connections.

A recent Gallup survey found that 45% of students at colleges and universities with fewer than 5,000 students — which often have lower student-to-faculty ratios — strongly agree that professors care about them as people, compared with 24% among those at institutions with 5,000 students or more.

Students at schools with enrollment below 5,000 students were also more likely to have had an internship or job that allowed them to apply what they have learned, and more likely to say they are active in extracurricular activities and organizations.

Large colleges and universities may offer a wide variety of majors, busy calendars of athletic events, and perhaps more prestige. For some students and families, those factors are important. Yet it’s just as important to objectively consider individual strengths and needs when choosing the next chapter.


Back to Basics wants to help college-bound students in the class of 2020 get an early start with those big decisions. Check out our College Admissions Boot Camp and our SAT Boot Camp to help you put your best foot forward.

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