Choosing which college to attend is a probably one of the most important decisions you'll ever make; basically, your entire life's happiness depends upon you making the right choice. (No pressure.) But we’re not going to let you carry this enormous burden alone, Sparklers. We may not know anything about making good decisions, but we know plenty about making bad ones— so here’s how not to choose a college.
Reason #1 NOT to Choose a College: The weather
Sure, that beach-front school in Hawaii looks dreamy, but hold off on giving your winter coat aViking funeral. You’re going to be inside at most of the time, if you’re doing it right, and it’s going to run you roughly the cost of a small car every single year to do so. So if your grand plan for higher education is to bikini it poolside 25/7 , you may as well just buy four small cars and stay home.
Reason #2 NOT to Choose a College: The sports
NCAA Champions! BCS Champions! Tennis! You own a complete seven-day sport-themed wardrobe, including hair and makeup, in their colors; you know most of the fight songs and can convincingly lip-sync the rest. (It’s awkward, but you get it done.) You practically go there already—why not make it official, right? Wouldn’t it be great to go to every. single. game, live and breathe victory, see about reading a book here and there, and graduate a WINNER?
Sure, but also, resoundingly, no. Every year, half of every team graduates and disappears into the vortex of entry-level accounting. The shining stars one year are the sighing has-beens the next. So unless you’re prepared to run the stats and take a hundred-year aggregate, pack your sportsball flair away and pick a college you'll love even if the teams aren't champions. (And don’t worry, they’ll play sports wherever you go. And you look just as good in blue. Or orange.)
Reason #3 NOT to Choose a College: That’s where the hot guy is going
I’m sorry, did you really want to go to the University of Plumbing?
Reason #4 NOT to Choose a College: The parties
Let’s be real for a sec (I won't tell your parents); for you, it’s all about the good times, right?
Now that we understand each other, let me tell you a little scandalous something: you’re going to find a party anywhere. Everywhere. You ARE the party. You could engineer a reasonable approximation of a party in a paper bag. Yes, some schools have a reputation for it, but don’t be fooled: there is just no monopoly on a good time. Remember when you and your bestie made a pact to write up your chemistry labs mirror-backwards—and still got an A? That didn’t cost $40,000 a year, either. The best things in life are free, where there’s a will there’s a way, etc., so don’t pick a school just because the brochure has 20 pictures of shirtless dudes Limbo-ing at Luau Night.
(Insider tip: college in Canada. It’s cheaper, and in Quebec you’re legal at 18. Cheers, my dear—can’t nobody argue with the Mounties.)
Reason #5 NOT to Choose a College: The dorms
Renovated warehouse lofts, a high rise with million-dollar views—this is it! It’s time to live large! Pack this thing up and drop you off yesterday!
But wait a second. Aren’t there some secondary properties here that the tour guides aren’t showing you? Isn’t there a dorm on a hill where they’ve installed a rope on poles to literally pull yourself up in the winter because it’s so icy? (True story.) Isn’t there an impossibly complicated lottery system that basically ensures you'll end up sharing a 2-bedroom suite with 6 other girls and ONE bathroom? Before you start buying window treatments, remember that you might not win a spot in the dream quarters you saw on tour.
But take heart, because wherever you go, your new spot is your kingdom: clean your room NEVER (or every day, if that’s your jam). Eat dinner in bed. Eat pizza for breakfast. Do whatever you want—whatever it may be, and wherever it is, this space is gloriously, gloriously yours.
Would you ever pick a college for based solely on any of the above? What's your best tip when it comes to choosing the right college?