There are a myriad of factors that affect a student’s decision in selecting a college/university. The intangible factors include: finances, logistics, intellect, ambition, morals, and personality. We’ll look at these factors individually with the assumption you’re planning on attending a 4 year program.


Unless you have wealthy parents or rich benefactor, the cost of your education may be paramount. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013-2014 school year was $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. It’s apparent by this statistic that due to the substantial savings, it’s definitely advantageous to look within one’s state of residence.

Private schools at the college level generally are the most expensive. At the high end is  Columbia University in New York, whose 2013-1014 tuition and fees is just shy of $50,000. This exceeds the prestigious Harvard College. Keep in mind that the above figures do not include housing, meals, books, or spending money. The average on-campus room and board range from $9,500 at public universities to $15,000 at the elite private colleges. One more unavoidable expense is the cost of books. The student should allow $1200 for books and supplies, although this could quickly escalate depending on the chosen courses.


As it’s been said in the business world: location, location, location. Where do want to attend college?  Within this factor, there are several sub-factors that may have an bearing on your decision.

  • There may be a college that brings you closer to family members or friends.
  • There may be a college that appeals to you because of the campus setting or climate
  • There may be a university that is close enough to conduct a daily commute
  • Do you prefer a small town atmosphere or big city environment?


For this factor, we’re referring to which courses and degree aspirations you’re directing your brain power. For example, if you have the gift and intellect for music or art, then your college selection process will be more finite. You’ll direct the selection process to those colleges best suited for your talent and aspirations. Hence, there are 4 year programs which at the undergraduate level are already tailoring the student for his/vocation or further study.


Is it your ambition to obtain a bachelor’s degree, then immediately enter the work force? If so, then your selection could be greatly facilitated as the degree is strictly a means to an end. That is, get the degree and run for the employment line. Conversely, if your bachelor’s degree is the first step to graduate school, then your academic horizon will be expanded. Undergraduate and graduate programs at the same college are criteria to consider to avoid changing institutions.


How do morals affect one’s college choice?  This factor encompasses the student’s beliefs which may influence him/her to apply to one of the nearly 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. that are religiously affiliated. The “Digest of Educational Statistics, 2000” indicates that sixty-six religious groups in the U.S. sponsor colleges and universities.

Most are liberal arts colleges with enrollments between 800 and 2,000. Church-related higher education also includes large research universities (Boston University, Notre Dame, for example), medical colleges, professional schools, two-year colleges, theological seminaries, and Bible colleges.


This factor engages all of the previously addressed categories in one’s selection endeavor. It asks the question: what college best suits your character, disposition, temperament, persona, and behavior? This is the definition of personality. To extract the best experience at college, not only must the tangibles (campus, location, climate etc.) be appealing but the intangibles must also be compatible with your nature. The intangibles defy definition.

One of the best ways to ascertain if a campus suits your personality is to visit your top choices. Walk the grounds, engage in conversation with students and faculty, visit the buildings where you’ll be studying and living and tour the nearby town or city. As you engage in this visitation, keep repeating this question to yourself: Do I see myself attending this college?