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 5-6% 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 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, 97% of Stanford University students live on campus almost all four years.

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, socially and financially.

3. Are you comfortable with pressure?

High school students who want to attend prestigious colleges often need to maintain top-notch grades, 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, socially and financially. Think carefully about whether you’re willing to compete for top college grades, keep up socially with classmates who are serious about networking or pay a premium to join clubs and other extracurriculars.

4. Will you take on too much debt?

Unless you qualify for scholarships and financial aid 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. Studies show that business and liberal arts majors may garner higher salaries if they get degrees from name-brand schools — possibly making any school debt easier to pay off. However, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors tend to earn the same regardless of where they went to college. So spending more on a degree from an expensive school might not make sense if you’re heading into those career fields. Either way, remember to consider your future salary and ability to repay any student loan debt when deciding on a school.

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. Listen to advice from your family and college counselor about your options, including any name brand schools you’re considering. In the end, though, trust your own decision-making skills. Once you study the pros and cons of attending a prestigious school against your other school options, you’ll know which college is the best match for you.