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What matters most when choosing a college?

The Princeton Review came out with their new Best 382 Colleges guide today. Princeton Review surveyed 137,000 students at 382 top colleges and asked them to rate their schools on dozens of topics of interest to applicants. Here are some highlights -some important, some not so much (but fun to read about anyway!)….

Best Campus Food – University of Massachusetts-Amherst Best Quality of Life- Rice University, Houston, TX and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN Most Beautiful Campus- University of San Diego Most Accessible Professors- Colby College, Waterville, ME and US Military Academy at West Point Colleges students love the most- Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA and Clemson University, Clemson, SC Best Athletic Facilities- Auburn University, Auburn, AL and Kansas State University Best College Dorms- Scripps College, Claremont, CA Best Classroom Experience- United States Military Academy, West Point, NY

Unfortunately, many student make their college choice based on insignificant factors like sports teams, fancy cafeterias, or beautiful buildings. But what things should they be looking at instead? Here are the things I recommend as the most important when choosing a school (in no particular order).

1. Academic Programs offered – Does the school excel in the field you want to study? 2. Student-Teacher ratio- Do professors teach undergrads or are most classes taught by teaching assistants? 3. Cost and Financial aid- Can you afford it and does the school offer generous financial aid (not in the form of loans, but scholarships that don’t have to be paid back) 4. Freshman retention rate- Do students stick around? 5. Graduation rates- A friendly warning…”on time” graduation rates are now calculated as 6 years, not 4. Those extra two years will significantly add to your cost. 6. Networking and Internship opportunities

Many families plan visits to popular campuses before doing their research. Colleges are great at recruiting and most have mastered the “sales pitch.” If you aren’t careful you will walk away committed to a school you can’t afford, won’t meet your academic needs and won’t launch you into a successful career.

Do your research, before you buy!

Compare graduation rates at colleges and universities in each state at

Read Beating the College Debt Trap by Alex Chediak

Sign your student up for the 5 Major Steps course! We will teach them how to choose a school and a major based on facts and not emotion.

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