JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois


There’s a lot to consider when a student chooses a college. If he or she is just starting out, or if they are already swamped with brochures and applications, the best way to decide which one is right for them is to determine their priorities. Below are some things to keep in mind when the student is making his or her decision. Choose which qualities are most important to them and look for colleges that correspond with their needs and interests.

Once these decisions are made, students are then ready to identify colleges that meet their criteria through use of various tools that are provided by Cappex. Students can compare their top colleges based on what matters to them, predict the chances of being admitted to the colleges of their choice, plan a trip to any college and find out if a specific college is the right fit.

College Criteria List


While the overall ranking and reputation of the college they’ll be attending is important, your students should also take their particular area of study into account when deciding where to apply. A college that is renowned for engineering may not be the best place to study English literature or nursing.


Some students thrive in large, fast-paced environments, while others prefer small classes and more personalized attention. The student-teacher ratio is a good indicator of class size. The total number of students can give the student an idea of the overall size of the college.

Campus Life

Whether they will be living in the dorms, in an apartment, or commuting from home, the campus they choose will be an integral part of their life. There's more to college than just classes. Don’t underestimate the role that the students' personality and values will play in their overall college experience. The students may want to decide which, if any, of the following are most important to them: social and ethnic diversity, religious affiliation, political climate, athletic participation and/or social life.


For some, college is an opportunity to experience life in a new and distant place. Others prefer to stay close to their home and community. Decide where the student thinks he or she will be most comfortable. Also consider whether they prefer an urban, suburban or more rural location.


Although cost should never be the only factor in deciding which college to attend, it is important to realistically evaluate the student's current financial situation, future goals, and options available to them. Encourage the student to apply for financial aid as early as possible so they can accurately assess what he or she will have to pay or borrow. Investigate the less obvious factors that impact college costs, such as: Are the students required to live in the dorms? What types of meal plans are available? How long does it take the average student to complete a degree? Are required courses offered in the summer? The answers to these questions, and information about job-placement statistics for their major, average starting salaries, and career services offered through the college, provide a bigger picture than the cost of tuition alone.