Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Trying to Choose a College

UPDATED!  Watch our Podcast Episode of this blog post!



Choosing a college can indeed be difficult, but the right school for you can be a major proponent of success in your classwork and overall enjoyment of your college years.  Today’s tips have to do with methods to NOT use when selecting a college!

  1. Mom And Dad Want (Or Don’t Want) Me To

Just because your Dad, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, and his father went to the school (oh yeah, your Great Grandfather’s Grandfather was a founding board member also…), doesn’t mean that The School is right for YOU!  It isn’t necessarily wrong to honor and enjoy legacy, but be sure to choose the school that fits you and your future career goals best!

On the flip side, choosing a specific school because your parents don’t want you to go there is also not a good reason… you are going to College, not Middle School.

  1. Neglecting To Visit The School

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Visiting schools is extremely important.  College is so much more than classes.  You will want to get a feel for campus and the student body.  Go and check out the school to see if you will thrive in the environments and enjoy the resources on campus.

  1. Sports Teams Only

College athletics can be an excellent way to enjoy the school.  Whether playing or watching, many good times are available through sports in college.  But, don’t forget about your schoolwork all together!  Plus clubs and other extracurricular activities may be more important to you than sports.

  1. Location Only

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Like sports only, choosing a college only based off of location is not a great plan.  Yeah OK, you love snow skiing and you want to go to Colorado University.  But, you currently live in Mississippi; consider the plane ticket or long drive home every holiday or summer before you go packing your gloves and ski pants.

  1. Cost Only

Cost is a very important aspect of choosing a school.  Often times, students do not put enough time into considering cost.  But, to consider cost only may be a grave mistake.  Choosing the most expensive school thinking it is the best or the cheapest school to save money will truly limit you in all of your many options.

  1. Following Suzy Or Johnny Q. If Everyone Jumps Off A Bridge

I Could Save HOW MUCH on college?!?

Yeah, Suzy or Johnny may be SUPER CUTE!! But, again, College not Middle School.  Choose a school that fits your future goals and your personal desires for your time in college.  Plus, you know what they say, ‘there are always more Suzies and Johnnies in the college sea…’  Something like that at least…

  1. Neglecting Necessary Due Diligence

This may be the top mistake of all students.  Students just do not put enough time into choosing a school.  Consider many different schools at first even if you don’t apply there.  Look into campus life, clubs available, majors offered, and all other aspects of the school before writing one off or even selecting another.  Be confident about your selection so that you can be confident from the first day of class until graduation day.

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5 Reasons Applying To College Without Knowing Your Admissions Counselor Is A HUGE MISTAKE! (With Bonus PRO TIPS)

Show of hands please… how many think that colleges do not have a personal connection with students during the admissions process? Well, you are mostly correct if you do not utilize this one resource available to every student at every college!

I am talking about the admissions counselor of course.  This counselor’s entire job is to connect with you during the admission process!  They work hard to help students complete the process and match the college or university with amazing potential.  Below are some specific reasons why you should never neglect to connect with your admissions counselor when completing your college applications.

1. Answer Your Questions

On the most basic (but still extremely helpful!) level, your counselor can answer your questions about the school or the application.  If you have a question about how to complete your application or where you should submit your transcripts, your counselor can help!  They can also help you find people on campus that you may need to talk to like the financial aid office.

2. Point You In The Right Direction

One of the many parts of a counselor’s job is to recruit students that are an excellent match for the school.  Let’s face it; not every student is a good match sometimes simply based on personal preferences.  Your counselor can help determine your fit at the university and steer you in the right direction (sometimes this may be to another school!).  They will be happy to talk with you about majors, college strengths and weakness, and the lifestyle of the surrounding community.

3. Give You Crucial Advice

If you have a good relationship with your counselor, they will be much more willing to help you out even further!  After hearing some of your personal experiences, they can help suggest topics for essays or ways to boost your application.  Sometimes, your counselor may even have some tricks up their sleeve such as talking to a specific professor or other little known resources.

4. Help Solve Problems

Are your test scores lost?  Are you having trouble getting that third letter of recommendation?  Did your online application suddenly crash?  Do you have trouble sleeping at night?  You need… THE NEW AND IMPROVED ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR!!

Ok, so maybe they can’t help rock you to sleep each night.  But, if you are having issues that are causing you to loose sleep, call up your counselor to see if they can lend a hand (or a pillow).

5. Handle Special Circumstances

In some cases, there are special circumstances to be considered during admissions.  For example, maybe you had surgery and a long recovery period during your sophomore year in high school that dramatically affected your grades.  Now, your overall GPA has suffered because of that year.  These are the types of special situations that you will want to discuss with your counselor.  They can help you determine the best way to handle this, and be an excellent advocate for you beyond your GPA.


1. Don’t Make Mom Call – Is your Mom going to college or you?  Your admissions counselor is not going to be happy (or impressed) with you if Mom has to do all of the communication.

2. Ask About Special Programs – These counselors are smart, and they know a lot about the college.  Ask if they know of any special programs that have scholarships or any thing particular for your potential majors.

3. Get Personal – I don’t mean asking them inappropriate personal questions!  Instead, talk with your counselor about the experiences you’ve had in high school such as extra-curricular activities, sports, leadership positions, community service, etc.  They can help you know how to incorporate these into you application.


Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Trying to Choose a College

Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College

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Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select A College

Why You Should Select Your Major BEFORE You Select Your College

First you take the SAT and ACT, maybe twice.  Then you apply to whatever school is around you or your best friend is going to.  When you get to school, worry about your social life for the first year.  Maybe by the time your second year rolls around, you should declare a major.  Right?

While this is probably the path that most college students take, it is very dangerous for your future career.  College is often all about ‘live it up NOW!’ but your future self won’t be so happy if you come out of college with a degree that doesn’t work for you.  Ultimately, ‘what should I study?’ should be the first question to ask when planning and preparing for college.

Selecting a major can be very difficult, especially at age 18.  But, considering your major will later lead to your professional career and means by which to make a living, it is extremely important.  For tips on how to select a major, see our Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a College Major.  The question here, though, is why you should select a major before selecting a college.  Actually, the real question is why you need to choose a future career before choosing a college.

First, let it sink in again that your college major will become your future professional career.  You will be working in an industry that utilizes the skills and knowledge gained in your college studies.  After you graduate, you will not get paid to simply write papers, complete theoretical projects, and solve problems out of a book.  Your job will likely be much different from school.  When selecting a major for college, you really should be selecting a future career.  With that in mind let’s proceed to some main reasons to consider career options before choosing a college.

Not every school has every major!  I’m not sure that graduating high school students understand this.  Or, maybe they are too busy trying to select a school first to be concerned with their major.  Either way, it is very important to take notice of this fact.  When I was looking to go to college, I thought in the back of my mind that I would really like to study aerospace engineering.  But, I was more concerned about getting into the college I wanted to go to.  When I was accepted there, I finally realized that the school doesn’t even offer aerospace engineering!  Fortunately for me, I wasn’t too heartbroken, because I like all forms of engineering.  But, this oversight could have been a much bigger problem.

Different schools have different opportunities and specialties even within a specific major.  For example, many different schools have aerospace engineering.  But, some schools specialize in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) versus traditional aircraft.  Maybe you find yourself highly interested in this subject during your first year of school, but you didn’t realize that there were specialized programs for UAVs at the school just down the road.  Likewise, even if two schools have similar academic programs for a particular major, one school may have significantly more resources and opportunities for that program than the other.

Lastly, choosing several future career options early will help you plan your college career.  Do your future career options require a 2 year, 4 year, or graduate level degree?  For my future career, is it important that my degree is from an elite college? Is there a way I can start working in the industry of my future career now and get free tuition?  Knowing all of these things upfront will really help you narrow down a long list of schools and pick a college that works the best for you and your future career.

There are some bonus perks to choosing several options for majors upfront as well.  You can start planning what internships you would like to target for summer breaks.  You can look for local companies around your college to work with to gain experience.  You can begin talking with professionals in that industry to get advice on college and early career.

Hopefully, you can see the benefits of considering your future career before selecting just any college.  Here at College Career Success, we suggest that you pick out 3 or 4 career options before entering college.  Being prepared to make the Major decision (pun intended) will allow you a much better opportunity for a successful and fulfilling career.

Check out our other Blog posts for more tips and tricks, and click on Follow to receive our latest posts!  Also follow us on Facebook to UNLOCK YOUR FUTURE!