It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement — and sometimes the pressure — of choosing a prestigious college.

After all, “brand name” colleges such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale are schools everyone knows. When you tell parents, relatives, teachers and friends that you’re applying to these types of schools, they’re usually impressed.

In addition to being well known, name-brand schools often are among the country’s most selective schools, as well. That means that they accept only a small percentage of students who apply. For instance, Stanford, Columbia and Harvard have a 4-5% acceptance rate. So if you get a welcome letter from one of these prestigious schools, should you automatically say “yes”?

It’s certainly a huge honor to be accepted, but attending a prestigious school may not always be your best fit. For one thing, they can be much more expensive than other colleges. Also, they might not offer the programs and social experiences that are most important to you. Before you make your final college choice, ask yourself the following key questions.

1. Does your career require a prestigious college degree?

Ask your school’s high school counselor and do some research. A degree from an Ivy League or another high-ranking school could make a difference if you’re applying to a competitive medical, law or business school after college. 

However, your college choice may not impress employers in the science, media or technology industries as much. These employers most often simply want proof that you have the skills they need. In these cases, you could get a solid education at a much more affordable school and still pursue your intended career.

2. Does the school offer the programs and experiences you want?

Whether the school is prestigious or not, you should still think about whether the college is your best fit. 

For instance, would you be comfortable majoring in math if the name-brand college doesn’t offer the more technical engineering program you’re interested in? Will you miss out on the chance to live off campus as an upperclassman because students tend to live in residence halls until graduation? For example, typically 97% of Stanford University students live on campus.

Be honest with yourself about which factors are most important to you. In the long run, those things can matter a lot and influence how happy you are at college.

The on-campus atmosphere could be really demanding — academically and socially.

3. Are you comfortable with pressure?

High school students who gain admittance to prestigious colleges often have top-notch grades, sky high test scores and a full activities résumé.

Once you’re accepted into a selective school, that pressure will most likely continue. The on-campus atmosphere could be really demanding — academically and socially. Think carefully about whether you’re willing to compete for top college grades, keep up socially with classmates who are serious about networking or audition and apply to join clubs and other extracurriculars.

4. Will you take on too much debt?

Unless you qualify for scholarships and financial aid that cover all of your college expenses or your family can pay for most of your school costs, you could graduate from a prestigious school with more debt than if you went to a less expensive college. This is where you should consider your major, projected salary and school cost when determining whether you should attend. Use a free tool, like My College Plan, to help calculate the ROI of your college investment and your ability to repay any student loan debt. Remember, when it comes down to it, choosing a college is about picking the right school for you — one that will give you the experiences you want now and the education you need — at a price you can afford. A school’s level of prestige is just one factor among many when it comes to selecting your school.