What to Think About When Making Your College Choice

Making Your College Decision

It all started at the library, where we did some more research on each of my daughter's college options....

The main decision to be made was between a large state college, and a smaller state college, both within commuting distance of our home.  Both had a large choice of majors. But one of them seemed to fit my teen, to the tee.  That was the smaller one, as it offered a smaller freshman class, and I thought that might be important for social reasons. 

 first college visit

But, at the same time, my teen was enticed by the excitement of the larger college, which had an especially good reputation, and a student size of more than 60,000.  She knew that some of her friends would be going there, and she liked the architecture and the plaza on the gorgeous large campus.

My main concern was choosing a college that best fit my teen's social needs.

My daughter was used to working in small groups, and did well with those, finding her way, as she has in Youth and Government. How could that work out at the larger state college?

So, together, we researched the two colleges again, first at the library, then at home, with the help of our cat.

First, we looked at what each college offered for incoming freshmen...

Freshman Social Environment 

The smaller option offered freshmen seminars, where the students would work together in small groups. This would give my daughter plenty of opportunity to get to know her classmates. 

And she has thrived in this kind of environment!  Small groups, that's just like her Youth and Government!  The seminars would last all year, giving them time to build friendships, and learn together.

The larger college did not have freshmen seminars, but did have a first quarter freshman into class, and nice raft trip for incoming freshmen, as a way to get to know each other.  But after that, they could be in some large lecture halls with over 700 students!

Then we compared the two on the basis of support offered to the students.

 Academic Support

This is what we found.....The larger one did have tutoring on campus, but was known to have a very competitive academic environment.  The smaller one had way more tutoring options available, with easy access to the professors.  

The larger one had many more students per professor, and the teens would usually be dealing with TA's instead of their professors.  Yet, the class size was ideal at the smaller college, about 30 students in each class, compared to 100-600 per class.  Both colleges had solid reputations.

We talked about these two issues together, and with my husband at dinner all week.  My teen soon realized that having a smaller, more supportive environment was more important to her than the status of going to the larger college.  Soon a decision was reached.  And I am so happy that she chose the more supportive environment at the smaller college.

So Thursday, we got out the formal papers, and my teen prepared them for mailing.  She accepted the scholarship offer at the smaller college, and sent in her college acceptance papers!

And she was thrilled!

I am so happy for her, excited, relieved to have the decision made, and a little sad at the same time! I decided that, if my daughter was really going to college, my family needed a road trip!  So, on Saturday, and we all headed out, of course with our cameras!  Nice, family time was just the ticket, especially for my husband and I!

 Country roads always calm me.  And the mountain, Mt. Rainer, was out...

 ......plus we saw a field of daffodils, still blooming this late in their season!

 Then we saw this sign....it was funny, as it was no where near the daffodils!

 We stopped and bought some strawberry plants...

Then we found a small town, near the mountain, named Orting...
and a nice park in the middle of town, where my college student-to-be, decided to pose for a picture in front of the merry-go-round...

 Big decisions call for big playground equipment, don't you think?

I enjoyed the road trip so much, and we plan to go back there next year, to see the daffodils in April, with our favorite college freshman, (oh, my!)....and have fried chicken again, at this little cafe...

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college grad, whom she homeschooled through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshighschool
collegegifted/2e and wrote -Homeschooling High School with College in Mind, 2nd Edition,   She offers homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting and has had some of her articles picked up by the Huffington Post.

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  1. What a great post! I really enjoyed reading about how you tackled the college process. My second child is also going off to college in just a few months. Our narrowing-down process was a bit different, as we visited the schools and relied heavily on the "feel" of the school and how the tours were presented. But for my daughter, is was choosing from about 4 small, private schools rather than the large university where her father teaches. Good luck next year! Sarah at smallworldathome.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Sarah Small of smallworldathome.blogspot.com. Thanks for your comment, and congratulations to your second child and you, for all the college choices that she had. That speaks very well of your homeschool. Wishing her well in her college experience! It is so encouraging to see so many of our homeschooled teens going right on to college!

  2. Very nice article. We are just beginning our homeschooling journey and it's encouraging to read stories such as this, although my sons ambitions I imagine will be different. Currently he is pursuing a career as a cook and being Batman, of course he is 6, haha! Congratulations to you all. #laceyslegacy

    1. Thank you, Lacey Charrene, of #laceyslegacy! I love that the kids are getting interested in Batman again, and I am sure that your son will become a great one! My daughter wanted to be a singer, an actress, when 6, what a wonderful age....and then many more things, through the years.... I am enjoying watching her look at possibilities for a major at college, probably something in communications, but we don't really know yet. Thanks for stopping by,

  3. What a great post that I enjoyed today and also allowed for me to learn something new! Sharing #ibabloggers

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Joanne! I am happy to hear that you got something new from my post. Have a great day,

  5. Great suggestion for things to think about. This process is daunting!

    1. Thanks, Jenn. Looking at the whole process made it daunting to me, too! Taking it step by step made it much less so, with lots of breaks for road trips, and getting hamburgers at a diner, too, lol. Are you in the midst of applying to college? If you like, feel free to send me a question or two, at my facebook, BJ's Homeschool. Thanks for stopping by!


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