Congratulations! You have been accepted to college — or maybe more than one college. Before you start deciding between meal plans and school clubs, you need to settle on where you’ll go.

The colleges you have been accepted to will have a lot to offer, but it’s up to you to choose which one benefits you the most. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you decide.

1. What’s the Best Program for My Chosen Major?

Talk to professors and current students in your chosen department during your campus visit to get a feel for the program. You can also reach out to alumni to better understand how the department prepares students for the workforce. If you’re undecided on your major, does the school have options you might be interested in? 

2. What Kind of Setting Appeals to Me Most 

Do you enjoy living in a big city? Or do you feel more secure living close to home? Would you rather be in a more rural environment? It’s crucial to choose a setting where you can thrive. Ask yourself where you’d like to study and think about the places you prefer. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few locations, then consider the size of the college.

Smaller colleges typically have fewer than 1,000 students, which means class sizes are also small and student-to-faculty ratio is low. Larger colleges can have more than 35,000 students, so class sizes are much bigger and the student body vastly outnumbers the faculty. If you learn best through listening and observation, a large college might be perfect for you, but if you prefer a more intimate setting and hands-on teaching, a smaller college may be the better option.

3. Are There Housing Options That Fit My Lifestyle?

Research your housing options. What type of living environment are you comfortable in? Do you prefer to live solo or with roommates? Most students live in campus dorms their freshman year. Dorms provide easy access to classrooms, dining halls and other campus buildings, but for some, the lack of privacy and higher cost could be an issue. If you prefer more privacy and potentially lower costs, check to see if off-campus housing options are available.

4. Do the Meal Plans Meet My Needs?

Does the school offer a variety of affordable meal plans? Are meal plans required if you live in the dorms? How is the quality of the food in the dining halls, and are there other food options nearby? Some dorms include kitchens where you can cook for yourself and save on meals. If you have dietary restrictions, make sure the school gives you enough options.

5. Are There Extracurricular Activities That Match My Interests?

Academics aside, think about what else the school has to offer. Are there sports and activities that interest you? Lots of schools have intramural sports leagues for students who don’t want to commit to playing on the varsity teams. And most have a range of student clubs — from dance and theater to science and gaming — so find out if there are any organizations that align with your interests.

6. Are There Flexible Scheduling Options?

If you’re trying to work a part-time job while pursuing an education, check to see if the school has flexible scheduling options (e.g., online courses, night and weekend classes). Be aware of how many classes you need to take to qualify as a full-time student and what schedules are like. Some classes meet multiple times a week and different majors may have different class formats.

7. Are Study-Abroad Programs Available?

If you’ve always wanted to study abroad, be sure these programs are offered. Check to see if the university supports students who study overseas and whether the study-abroad credits would transfer. You might only receive transfer credits if you attend a specific school or take a preapproved course. Study-abroad programs can vary from school to school, and some have higher quality programs than others. So if study-abroad is a priority, it’s important to vet the school’s offerings.

8. What Percentage of Students Graduate and Get Jobs?

Think about your future job and internship prospects. If there aren’t opportunities in your field near the school, you might have to relocate when you start your career. Schools with high job placement rates and an active career services office can offer added reassurance that you are more likely to find a job after graduation. It may also be helpful to review the school’s retention and graduation rates. How many continue after their freshman year? What percentage of students graduate and what’s the average length of time it takes students to earn their degree? 

9. Can You See Yourself Happy There?

Ask yourself whether or not this college fulfills your expectations. Does it meet your needs both personally and academically? Is the campus a place you could picture yourself spending the next four to five years? Can you more easily imagine going to another school compared to this one? Choose a school where you can see yourself growing and thriving — not just attending to get a degree.

Collect the information you’ve gathered and create a pros and cons list. Rank each college by factors that are unique to your personal and financial needs. Once you’re done with the list, do a side-by-side comparison to determine which college best meets your needs.

Choosing a college can be difficult and confusing at times, but knowing what to look for can help you choose the school that’s the best fit for you.