How I Made My College Decision

By Amanda Ferrara, Student at New York University

As a transfer student, I never really thought of myself as someone who should give advice on how to choose which college to go to.

I made my initial decision based on all of the wrong criteria, and it turned out that the aspects I thought were the most important really should not have had as big of an impact on my decision as they did.

Luckily for me, I got it right the second time around, and I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. Here are some tips from someone who made the wrong choice (and then the right one), so you can learn from my mistakes when you choose your school.  

1. The “best” school you got accepted to is not always the best choice for you. If you choose a school based on ranking, you could be ignoring the aspects that it’s lacking. Just because a school was rated as being more competitive doesn’t necessarily mean the classes are more interesting, the professors are more engaging, the students do not work as hard or that you will be happier there; all it means is that it is harder to get accepted to.

2. Do not ignore the surrounding city when it comes to making your decision. Unless you plan on never stepping foot outside of campus, you definitely want to make sure that the surrounding area is a place you can see yourself spending time in. Consider the places to shop (groceries, household items, clothes, etc.), places to eat, places to have fun. This is your home for the next four years, so definitely take the neighborhood into account. Most importantly, make sure you feel safe!

3. Do not follow your friends/significant other to their schools of choice. Just because a school is perfect for your best friend, doesn’t mean it is perfect for you. Remember that if a friendship or relationship is going to last, it will last whether you’re at the same college or not.

4. Do consider how close you are to home. Both of my schools were within an hour of home, and it was nice to be able to hop on a train and go home for the night if I needed to. While most students want to get far away from their hometown, homesickness is common for freshmen. Really sit and think about if you want to take a plane every time you want to spend a few days back home (and if you'd be able to afford it).

I made several mistakes when choosing my first school. I wanted the one that was higher on the rankings list, the one in the middle of nowhere, the one close to my best friend. The main difference between my first school and NYU (the school I ended up at) is that I always knew I belonged at NYU. As cheesy and cliche as it sounds, you will get a feeling when you walk on a campus that you are supposed to be at; everything feels right and you feel like you belong. If you have to force it, if you have to do a pros and cons list on whether you should go to one school over the other, try just concentrating on figuring out which one felt like home to you.

Trust me, I didn’t follow my gut the first time … and I just ended up transferring to where it wanted me to go a year later. Learn from my mistake!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!