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7 Things NOT to Consider When Deciding Where to Apply to College

Choosing a college can be stressful, but what’s even more stressful? Deciding where to actually apply! While the internet is overflowing with factors you should consider when you’re applying to college, talking about the things you shouldn’t consider seems to be taboo. The application process can be overwhelming (especially when you have your dad helping you with your personal essays ––yikes!). But, it can help to have all the information in order to make the best decision. Read below for seven things not to consider when deciding where to apply to college:

1. Where everyone else wants (or doesn’t want) you to go

If you’re choosing a college 3,000 miles away from your hometown just because your mom doesn’t want you to, think again. You are going to have to live with this decision for the next four years. Don’t choose where to apply based on others’ opinions. 

You have to live with—or more accurately, at—this decision for the next four years, don’t let anyone besides yourself decide what is best for you.

2. The hookup culture

Don’t focus on College Confidential’s ranking of schools with the hottest boys or girls when you’re filling out the Common App. The next four years are about you—not the “you” as defined by the hotness of the people you hook up with. Choose a place that will be the best for you, regardless of the kiss-ability of the student body.

3. Where your high school friends are applying

As important as lifelong friends are, the amazing thing about college is the ability to have a fresh start. Choosing a college just to be roomies with your high school BFF could be a major disaster. People change in college. It may be the case that the best way to remain close with your friends is to pursue your own paths in college.

College is an opportunity to create a new identity or to let your current self blossom in a new environment. If you choose to follow your best friend to college you may feel pressured to room with them, to do everything that they do, be friends with their new friends, or it may force you two apart. Going to college with your best friend may be exactly what is right for you and your friend, but if the commitment seems forced, it’s probably because it is. 

4. Challenging courses and programs

Just because a school requires summer reading each year is not a reason not to apply there. College is supposed to challenge you!

While you’re sitting at your computer studying for your AP Lit exam, you may not want to think about the laborious term papers a certain college requires or the frustrating group projects that one school boasted about, but challenging courses are what college is all about. When the time comes, you may find those group projects or taxing papers to be a valuable experience – and experience that college is supposed to provide you with. 

Related: Here’s the Number of Colleges You Should Actually Be Applying To

5. Where your significant other is going

No one knows what the future will bring. If you truly are the high school sweethearts that will be together forever, going to different colleges shouldn’t change that. But, don’t let yourself be tied down by high school commitments. College is a bigger pond, with more fish in the sea.

If it is meant to be, your relationship will survive the distance. Oftentimes, couples feel that forging their own path in college makes their relationship stronger! 

6. The food

While the dining hall options may seem like all that matters as you’re touring colleges, it is really only relevant freshman year. In most schools, upperclassmen dorms or apartments have a kitchen, alleviating you of the need to stomach the cafeteria’s questionable grilled chicken.

The dining hall should not be your top priority. While food is important, there are other places to eat. Keep in mind that you can take advantage of upperclassmen housing with kitchens, Chinese takeout or cereal in your room. Search the web for restaurants within walking distance of your dorm.

7. Freshman dorms

First-year dorms are seldom impressive, regardless of their Princeton Review ranking. At almost all colleges you are going to have to share a Harry Potter-under-the-stairs-size-room with at least another person, if not more. You may also have to share a bathroom with a floor of girls. It’s an experience, but not one that should define where you apply to college. Housing will improve with age!

The college application process may feel like the most stressful time of your life right now, but just wait until grad school! Or your wedding! Not helping? Choosing where to apply to college and then where to go to college are some of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, so make sure you consider all of your options. Don’t let these thoughts cloud your judgment and keep you from the school of your dreams!