Video: How I Chose My College: Student Voices

We talked to college students and recent grads about the factors that led them to chose their schools, including location, academic specialties, cost, and family pressures.
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Updated on April 6, 2022
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Video Transcript

( video displays a TV screen with the following message from BestColleges: "We invited a bunch of college student and recent grads into a studio to answer some questions...Here are their answers." )

( video displays a title screen with the words, "Why did you choose to attend your college?" )

Seeing Yourself on Campus

Dobbin, Morehouse College student, class of 2021: This is actually a funny story, actually. So when I was in high school, I just wanted to play sports, I just wanted to get through the day and so when it came to, like, picking colleges...I had been going to this young men's leadership conference that Morehouse hosted for the last, since I was in eighth grade. So I've been going in eighth grade, ninth grade all the way through, so it was, I was just like, alright in terms of school I didn't really have any schools in mind, but I knew I was going to apply to Morehouse and I knew that, alright, if I get into Morehouse I won't go anywhere else. So I applied early admissions, I got in, and it was the only school I applied to.

Dominion, Roger Williams University student, class of 2023: I think it was kind of a little bit of like everything. I visited once and as soon as we got on the campus, I looked at my parents, I was like, "Okay," I was like, "This might be the school." But I had visited University of New Haven before that, which was my other school that I was really actually going to go to. But then when I got to the campus, I didn't really feel, you know, I didn't really feel like there was a connection. So I was like, "Eh, let's try another school," and Roger Williams did also give me a substantial amount of scholarship, so I was like, to make it easier on me and my parents and my family, that was kind of the best choice at the time.

Dobbin: I was able to go down there and see what the campus looked like and I kind of immediately fell in love with it. I felt like this was definitely a place I could see myself like walk into and from, and if you can't see yourself on the campus, then I wouldn't suggest going there...or just any school in general, because if you can't see yourself being there you're not going to have a good time. So I could see myself walking down to Brown Street, I could see, I liked, y'know, what the athletic program was talking about at the time, and I was yeah, so I just fell in love with it. I didn't really want to apply to any other schools, partly because I think it was partly laziness [chuckles], but on the other hand it was just I really wanted to go to Morehouse and I got in, so I was satisfied.

Going Somewhere New

David, Emerson College student, class of 2022: So I decided to go to school in Boston because I wanted a change of scenery. I'm originally from California, so I just wanted to, you know, go to a place I've never been before, you know, see new places, meet new people. Just wanted to get out of, you know, the home that I've been in for like the past, you know, 14 years of my life.

Giro, Syracuse University student, class of 2023: I didn't really have a specific reason to go there, I kind of just liked it. Two of my sisters' really good friends, they both went there, so that probably helped a little bit. I definitely visited the campus and liked it a lot. It's very nice, there's like one major walkway, it's not too big, too, it's like 10-15,000 kids. So it's a bigger school, but kind of not huge like some southern schools, because I didn't really want too too big.

Representation & Inclusion

Christian, Harvard University student, class of 2025: There was really no sort of campus touring or exploration of what campus life is like at any of these schools that I applied to because of the pandemic. So like a year ago, today even, I wasn't really too, y'know, motivated to apply there, just because I had all these preconceptions in my head of like what Harvard would be. And so I got started like really late, December 27th, to get it in for the January 1st deadline. When I got the notification, or like the letter of admission, of course like it was just an instant like, "Oh, you're going there." It was super, a very proud moment in that moment, when you know I heard about it and I got to see my family's reaction. But it also was sort of a, just a consensus agreement, like, "Okay like now I'm going to wear this on my sleeve as a badge of like pride, for sort of the different, you know, communities I represent."

Dominion: Really Roger Williams had a close-knit community. I'm in a lot of clubs and one of the clubs is called "The Barbershop," which is an affinity group for men of color. And that was one of the things that kind of drew me in, because they had opportunities like that for students of color to get involved, because it is a predominantly white institution. So you know really having a group and other groups that I can kind of form a type of family bond with was what kind of drew me closer to that school specifically.

Drew, Xavier University student, class of 2023: So both of my parents actually went to Xavier and they met there, so I'm kind of that child. But I actually knew what Xavier could do for me. So they had graduated the most kids of color from medical school, and I knew I wanted to be a doctor, and so Xavier was where I wanted to be. That's why I applied, they ended up giving me the most money, so that's where I went. And I just all around love the idea of going to an HBCU. So, for those of you that don't know, an HBCU is a Historically Black College or University. I had gone to other schools like Spelman, and I had gone to other campuses, but I decided that Xavier was the best place for me. Honestly, I love it. It's been hard since COVID and post-COVID, but I do love the school.

Money Matters

David: Emerson College is a great school for what I want to do. It's a private school, and we all know how expensive colleges are in the United States. So you know having some loans, albeit they're loans, but they still helped me a lot with paying off the tuition. So yes, receiving financial aid was definitely a factor.

Heather, Simmons University student, class of 2018: So I only applied to a handful of schools early decision, Simmons being one of them, and then a couple other state schools. So once I got accepted to Simmons, that was just, like, the best choice financially for me. My dad actually works there, and they offer a tuition exchange program. All tuition is waived and then if I wanted to live there, I would have paid for that, but I opted to commute because my parents' home is fairly close.

Sara, Emerson College student, MFA candidate 2022: So I had no intention to go to Emerson, I wanted to go to Columbia. I just thought it was the most suitable program for me, but obviously it was very expensive, I think like a year was $70,000. And then I get a response from Emerson saying that I got a full scholarship, and I'm sitting there and thinking what should I do? And should I...I mean this is my dream and this other school I don't even know. I replied to Emerson some time before that that I'm not gonna attend. Like literally when I was like, you know, on the verge of saying no to everything, and just like going on a ship and being a sailor or whatever, I get an email from GDP from Emerson saying like, "Hey Sarah, I don't know if you understand, but like a 100% scholarship is something that we don't usually offer to students." It never occurred to me it was so special, because for me all this money, coming from Serbia where like you don't talk these numbers... Or, am I gonna pursue my dream which still I don't have money for? Like first week of September, I wrote the email to Columbia like, "I'm not accepting." And now I'm so happy, like I had a eureka, like oh my god, I made such a good choice!