It's easy to become overwhelmed if you have several acceptances from quality schools and aren’t sure how to choose.

One factor that can help to guide your enrollment decision is location. Are you eager for a big-city experience, or would you prefer a more intimate, college-focused town? If you’re not quite sure, read on to explore the pros and cons of big city schools vs. college town campuses.

Connected Community

For Asia Terry, a junior at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, the decision to attend a school in a college town came as a surprise. She planned to go to an HBCU  (Historically Black College or University) in a larger city. However, after a chance visit to Walsh’s campus to stay with a friend, Terry says the university “felt like home.”

A school in a bigger city, Terry notes, would probably have bigger distractions. “I feel like I wouldn’t have been as focused,” Terry explains. She also credits the small town with the “stronger personal relationships and a deeper sense of community” she’s developed while at school.

Exploring New Environments

Darnetta White, a freshman at Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland, says “attending school in a big city gives me the chance to explore and try new things,” like a wide range of ethnic foods, theater, museums, sporting events and concerts. She considers this to be a luxury students in smaller towns don’t have and says she’s broadening her college experience by taking full advantage of her time in a big city.

The Money Factor

The cost of college can change depending on your location. Tara Smith attended Indiana University Southeast (IUS) in New Albany, Indiana, partly for financial reasons. “I chose IUS because it was close to home and my family,” she explains. She also lived at home during college, which “saved a heck of a lot of money.” In addition saving money, there are other benefits to living at home during college.

In a college town, there’s often a smaller price tag for everything from housing to restaurants to groceries. The cost of living in the township of New Albany compared with its closest big city, Chicago, is 31 percent cheaper. If you’re feeling anxious about the expense of college, think about the ways attending school in a smaller town can help keep costs down. 

Broaden Your Perspective

One of the most valuable aspects of attending school in a large city that students cite is a diverse student body. Andrew Goodman, a senior at University of Louisville, says diversity is one of the best benefits of attending school in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. “In my anthropology and English courses, we have great conversations because there are varied perspectives on our subjects,” Goodman explains. “We have many refugee and immigrant students who contribute their experiences to our history and humanities courses as well.” This doesn’t mean that college towns can’t offer diversity, as well. In some cases, they may even have more diverse campuses than their larger counterparts.

Convenience and Accessibility

The logistics of getting around campus, parking and heading home are something to think about too. Goodman says that fast-paced city living can actually make it harder to get around  because it’s “troublesome to rely on public transit to get to class on time — especially if there are delays, slowdowns from construction or buildings that aren’t as accessible to bus stops.” That being said, if you’re going to college away from home, a big-city campus may make it easier to visit your family, as big cities are generally more accessible to major airports and train stations.

City and smaller-town colleges both offer their share of benefits and drawbacks. What feels perfect for one student may be less than ideal for another. Think carefully and visit a few options to figure out what you really want — and don’t want — out of your school’s location.