What I Didn’t Know About Choosing a College

When I was a high school senior (many moons ago), I thought I was well-equipped to make the best college choice for me. I had read the brochures (Google wasn’t a thing back then); talked with my school counselor as well as friends and family; and visited campuses to check things out in person. After doing all of that and receiving acceptance letters and financial aid packages, I made a decision: I would stay in my hometown to save money, but live on campus to get the full college experience. Even after weighing my options and making what was the best decision for me at the time, I wondered whether it was the right choice.

My choice was based on a lot of things, mainly questions my mother had which were influenced by the fact that I was a low-income student: How would I get home for holidays and on breaks? What if there were housing issues? Where would I live?  

Perhaps I should’ve looked at things another way and asked different questions: What are the university’s graduation rates? How many students are like me — low-income and receiving Pell Grants? How do graduates of this university fare post-graduation? How well does this institution serve its students of color? Answers to these questions would have told me more than just cost; they would have shown me how supportive my institution would be during my collegiate career. If the institution enrolled few low-income students or graduated few students of color, that would have signaled to me that this institution wasn’t suited to educate students like me.

College Results Online answers these questions — and many more. And it has just been updated with the latest data students and their families need to make a fully informed college choice. The site has:

  • Graduation rates by students’ race, ethnicity, and gender;
  • Data on net price and financial aid;
  • Updated indicators for colleges in the bottom 5 percent of graduation rates for four-year colleges nationwide and in the bottom 5 percent of working-class and low-income student enrollment; and
  • An advanced search function to find colleges by state, costs, student outcomes, and more.

Ultimately, I believe I ended up right where I was supposed to be. But with College Results Online, you can take out a lot of the guesswork and be 100 percent sure about your decision.

We want to hear from you! What didn’t you know about choosing a college when you made your decision? Tell us here.