How you choose a college

Education, class size, location, cost

For me, choosing a school wasn’t hard. As many of you know, this decision is quite stressful. For me, it wasn’t difficult really at all.

I knew I didn’t want to be far from home, I wanted a major in the helping profession and I wanted cheap tuition. NDSU happened to fit those categories. 

But for others, this decision was not so easy. You may have several good options. So how do you choose a school that is right for you?


First, I think having a general idea of what you want to go to school for is important to know before you start attending school. Before I started attending NDSU I knew that I wanted a career in a helping profession. 

That being said, I went with the knowledge that this chosen major may not work for me, but so far, I have been affirmed that this major is right for me. 

I know that I wouldn’t do well being locked into a single field or single job forever, but being double majored in social work and human development and family science provides me a lot of freedom to choose a career that will be a good fit for me. 

I could go to grad school and become a licensed social worker, take the LSAT and try to go to law school or follow the HDFS route and go into family and couples therapy. 

Essentially, I have many good options, which was important for me in choosing a major; in fact, NDSU having this major as an option was a massive factor in my decision to attend NDSU.

Now, I knew what I needed from my major. But the question is, what do you want from higher education. Do you want to pursue a pre-med route? What about pre-law? Business, Ag, whatever you want to go to school for, you should probably make sure that you are least going to leave with the degree they want. 

Class size 

Class size was another factor that stood out to me in choosing a school. As big as NDSU is, I have found that my classes are never very large, especially as a social work major. 

I have met most of my cohort for my social work degree, and in my classes, I am rarely in a class with more than 20 students. I greatly prefer small classes over large classes. It was something I asked about during my NDSU tour. 

Granted, in your first year or so of school, you will have some bigger classes as you get through your generals. But even so, I still took HDFS classes my first year of college, and those classes were also not that big. 

Bigger schools are gonna have more students and therefore, have bigger classes. Having attended big and small schools before attending NDSU, I knew smaller classes would help me be more successful. 


This was probably the number one factor in determining which school I would be attending post-high school. I knew I wanted to pay to instate/cheap tuition. I also didn’t want to be very far from home. 

My family and I have a really good relationship, and since my brothers are so young, I didn’t want to miss out on spending time with them. I wanted to be close by. 

NDSU was close by for me. I didn’t have to be far from my family; I could stay home and not pay for room and board. Again, money is a big deal in my decision-making. I don’t want to graduate school with $80K in debt. 

Because I chose not to board, I have saved roughly $20,000. 

And, thanks to some help from my family, I have managed not to pull out any loans for school yet. 

Now, I recognize that not everyone has help from their family. That is a massive privilege, and I don’t want to make it seem like these are things that will work for you. 

But the location was a factor in my decision-making because of the relationship I have with my family. And because of the resources I had available it made sense for me. You might look at the word “location” and take it in the opposite direction. Maybe you want to get out of dodge. 

Maybe you want to go to school somewhere warm. Or somewhere near your grandma so you can help her out here and there. Regardless, location will probably affect your decision-making in how you choose to pursue higher education. 


As I have been hinting at, all the other factors will probably be influenced by the money available to you. A school with good scholarships is important. 

NDSU does have decent aid available; the better student you are in high school, the more aid they will give you. Unfortunately, I didn’t do well on my ACT. 

I wish I could have gone to school on a writing scholarship. I was in the top 1% in the country on my ACT for writing. But unfortunately, the written portion of your ACT does not contribute to your overall score. 

So I use my writing for other purposes to help pay for school. 

What skills do you have? What scholarships are available to you? What type of financial aid is available? Tuition, room and board, food, clothing, transportation and all other kinds of magical costs will make themselves known to you eventually. As far as I am aware, it’s near impossible to go to school for free. 

So go somewhere in your means. Of all the factors, this is one of the few consequences spanning years if you are not careful. Choosing a school doesn’t matter nearly as much as everyone tells you it does. The degree will matter more than your school. 

 I don’t think future employers care if my social work qualifications come from M-state, NDSU or UND. 

So choose somewhere you can afford and be happy being for the next four years. If you hate the cold, then I gotta break it to you — NDSU isn’t the school for you. If that makes you unhappy, then it doesn’t matter how cheap it is if you’re going to hate your life for the next four years. 

All this to say 

Choosing a school is important, but not as important as every adult tells you. It matters if the institution educates you and prepares you for the workforce. 

The other day I was in the bathroom, and while I was popping a pimple, (ew, I know, sorry, it’s the truth of what I was doing), a girl who was on a bison tour walks into the bathroom and asks me, “Do you like going to NDSU?” 

I told her I did. She was stressing out and said to me, “NDSU has been my dream school forever, and I am worried it’s not for me.”

What I told this girl in the bathroom is what I will tell you. Whatever school you choose is going to be the right school for you. You are going to figure it out. Worst-case scenario, you transfer to somewhere else. 

What is the consequence? Do you lose four years of your life? Not really; you likely will be able to take your credits with you, especially if you are only taking your generals. 

These next four years are going to fly by. You got this. You can handle this choice. And if you choose “wrong,” oh well, you are capable of dealing with that if it comes your way. 

You will know what is right for you. Trust your decision and know that choosing a school is not as serious as you think. 

Leave a Reply