How To Choose A College Or University

College student sitting at laptop choosing a college

Choosing a college is a very big decision. It can be an overwhelming and intimidating endeavor as you scrutinize over every detail. While there is a lot to think about and consider, it is possible to simplify the process by alleviating a lot of stress. There are two things you need to consider; they are essential and will allow you to narrow your search and help you form your list of potential schools quickly and concisely—major and cost.

Deciding On A Major

Choosing a major can be almost as daunting as choosing a college, there are just as many questions and important things to consider. What are my interests, my passions, my values, what are my abilities, and what do I want to do for the rest of my life? These are deep topics to consider about yourself and your future. The hard reality is, that your major will be crucial for future success, so it’s important to pick it wisely. If you don’t, it can be a huge waste of time and money.

"you got this" sign, cell phone, and laptop sitting on top of a college dorm room brown desk.

Choosing a major must be broken down into two important factors as well, earning potential and employability. It’s important to understand that majors contain value. This may seem obvious as you are paying for them. But it goes beyond that, they have the power to affect your income for the rest of your life. Simply put, some earn a lot of money, and some don’t.

Don’t Panic When Choosing A College

Don’t panic if you’re not sure exactly what you want to do. Your major won’t necessarily decide the career you pursue for the rest of your life. However, it’s important to pick a major so you can get a job and make money. No one wants to struggle later in life to find employment or for financial security, because they didn’t choose a major that’s employable.

There are hundreds of majors to choose from and many colleges will have some of the same majors. Though the degree earned will be the same, each college will have a slightly different program and curriculum. This can mean there will be different courses, guidelines, and credits needed to graduate. Therefore, it’s important to compare. Accreditation is important to consider. I found when looking at state universities there were different accreditations for the business program. I had to do my research to see which accreditation was the best.

Consider Top Employable Majors When Choosing A College

While there are many lists, all vary slightly, there is a consensus on the degrees that are currently in demand. I’m only including a few as inspiration, this does not by any means cover them all. Be sure to do your own research. Degrees that are in-demand change as we are a global economy, always growing and developing. If you want to delve deeper into how to pick a major, The Top 5 In-Demand College Degrees In 2023 is a great resource.

1. Engineering

I’m starting the list with engineering simply because it consistently makes the list. When choosing to study Engineering, there are many different areas you can major in. Some of the most popular are, Electrical, Chemical, Structural, Computer, and Mechanical. Engineering is a good field to go in with high job security.

Some of the richest people in the world have engineering degrees.

2. Business Administration

Business Administration is a highly sought-after degree. This is because the degree is broadly developed and prepares students for many types of positions, especially management positions. Like engineering, there are many concentrations. Finance, Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Law, and Marketing.

3. Pharmacology

Pharmacology made almost every list of in-demand degrees. Though many Pharmacologists have graduate degrees, you can work in the field with a bachelor’s degree.

4. Computer Science

With the data boom, Computer Science is a promising field of study. Like Business Administration a computer science degree has room for growth and specialization.

5. Information Technology

Technology is everywhere. Like Computer Science, Information Technology is a growing industry. This is because the field is expanding rapidly and covers a wide range of niches. Jobs in IT are plentiful and pay well.

If you were curious, as I was. Here are The Worst College Majors.

Think About The Cost When Choosing A College

The average student loan debt for a recent college undergrad graduate as of 2020 is $29,000. This jumps to $71,000 for a graduate degree. The average student loan debt keeps growing every year, and the cost of a college degree will only go up. Unfortunately, most students are buried in debt when they graduate. However, it’s not necessary to go into debt. With a little planning and smart choices, you can pay for college and graduate debt-free. How To Pay For College Without Student Loans.

Tuition is one of the most expensive aspects of attending college. Out-of-state tuition can be double, often triple the cost of in-state. For this reason alone, choosing a college out-of-state is foolish unless you’re getting a full ride, therefore, I recommend against it. According to, the average cost for the 2021-2022 academic year for tuition is, public out-of-state: $22, 698.  Public, in-state: $10,338. The national average is double, and these numbers do not include room and board and other additional expenses. It just doesn’t make sense to pay twice as much for the exact same degree you can get in-state. When you only consider in-state colleges and universities you’ve narrowed your search substantially.

Community College Is Your Best Friend  

Unless you have a full ride and know exactly what you want to study, I recommend starting off at a community college. It’s the best bang for your buck. In many states the first two years are free, and it’s the perfect steppingstone right out of high school. Most students are not quite sure what they want to do, I know people who have changed their major two and three times. This is a huge waste of time and money.

Attending a community college allows you to get a feel of what type of classes you like, and what areas you are interested in. It gives you a little more time to grow and mature so you can develop an idea of what you want to study and what type of career you want. Community college is how I earned my AS in Business Administration at 17 and my BS in Business Entrepreneurship at 19 and my MBA in Entrepreneurship and Global Business at 20. I honestly can’t say enough about community colleges. I started at my community college at 13 via concurrent enrollment.

There are many community colleges that are now offering bachelor’s degrees. Most of the bachelor’s degrees that are offered at a community college are typically degrees in select high-demand careers. Therefore, upon graduation, you will be able to find an excellent job with good pay! Read about it here, Community Colleges Are Offering Bachelor’s Degrees.

Never Chose A College Based On Emotion

When you’re a senior in high school and you’re filling out applications it’s difficult not to get swept up in the idea of going to a top university. Though hard, don’t be in awe of prestige and name. For 90% of students, this will not be a factor in getting a better education or job. Bragging rights of attending a higher institution will wane and you be left with huge debt and a degree that a lot of other people have too.

In-state public universities are often the least expensive option, and many of those colleges rank highly. I received my degrees (BS, MBA) from a state college. I got into every university I applied for. Some are very prestigious. I spent countless hours calculating costs, benefits, classes, and accreditation. I am a business major, so I reached out to executives, managers, and supervisors and spoke to them at length about who they hire, and what they are looking for in an employee.

What Employers Really Want

I asked where their degrees were from. Not one of them had a degree from a top university, though most did have a graduate degree. I then asked how they would perceive me if I received my degree from a state college vs a private one. Every single person I spoke to in the business world said it wouldn’t make much difference when making their decision to hire me. They said while the degree was important, where it came from necessarily wasn’t if there was accreditation. They also said they preferred work experience and recommendations. If a potential employee had a degree from a higher institute vs someone with the same degree from a state college plus experience and/or a recommendation they would pick the latter every single time.

Finding the right college doesn’t need to be a long, painstaking process. A good salary coming out of college and the least amount of student debt are key to a good start in life.


Sensei Side Note:

Your pursuit of a degree should not be concerned with prestige, getting a better degree than others, achieving better grades than others, or impressing your friends or family. If you are pursuing college it needs to be because it is something you want the knowledge of, an academic or career path you’re interested in, you must compete with no one but yourself and use this as an opportunity to achieve your goals. Don’t allow the expectations of others to put pressure on your academic goals, allow your own expectations to fuel your results. The school, the professors, and the peers don’t make the student successful, that comes from within.