accepted student hugging his parents

“I can’t decide. Help!” Here’s how to choose a college when you’re torn between offers.

You’ve filled out the applications, waited months to hear back, and now you’ve been admitted to all of your top-choice colleges. So which offer should you accept? Deciding which college to attend might be the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make. It’s natural to stress out, but here are 3 reasons why you shouldn’t. 

1. There isn’t one right answer.

Talking about college “decisions” sometimes makes it sound like there’s a right answer and a wrong answer, and that your decision is final. Sure, some places might not be right for you (consider the Ornery Institute for Spiders, for instance), but you have so many valid options.

Think about this instead as a college “choice,” where you’re choosing among several very qualified contenders. Many paths will bring you where you want to go, and infinitely more will bring you happiness. 

If you don’t believe us, remember this: In the end, success in college isn’t determined by where you go, but what you do with your undergraduate experience. You can find success wherever you choose if you look hard enough.

Figure out what your non-negotiables are and use those to narrow down your list. Then make a choice from there. You’ll be a-okay.

student smiling because they're not alone

2. It’s alright if you change your mind. 

College is a time to gain new experiences and insights, and this means you’ll learn more about yourself. It’s totally normal for your goals and priorities to change along the way. 

Usually, the two decisions students stress about most when wondering how to choose a college are 1) which college to go to and 2) what to major in. Remember that you can change your mind about both of these things. A lot of people transfer to a new school or change their major if things aren’t working out. You probably even know somebody who’s done so.

The path you’re envisioning now is bound to change at some point, and that’s okay. Maybe you’ll discover a passion for social work you didn’t know you had, or maybe you’ll realize you don’t actually like being so far from the city. Maybe you’ll decide you want to pursue art, or maybe you’re over that making-statues-out-of-insect-wings-and-mayonnaise phase of your life. Whatever the case, you can always restructure your plan.

banner reading "Fight"

3. You’re not alone.

Everyone who has received their acceptance letters is here with you. Some students’ decisions might be harder than others’, but everyone has to make a choice. If they can do it, so can you.

The good thing is that tons of people are here to help you make your decision easier. Talk to your high school counselor, a teacher, a close friend, a relative, or your faithful toy elephant. They can listen as you work out your thoughts and give you the perspective that’s so often lacking in times of anxiety.

Whether you’re choosing between 12 colleges or 2, over a million different paths lie ahead of you. No one right answer exists, because you can find happiness in so many different places. Always, always, always remember this: If the question of how to choose a college is worrying you, remind yourself how many good options you have and that you can make a change if things aren’t working out. 

Best of luck in your choosing, and enjoy the paths that follow.

UIUC Admissions

UIUC Admissions

We're here for you as you prepare for college. Whether you're looking for guidance on the college search process or have questions about Illinois, we hope our blogs will help!

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