At this point in the college search process, you’re probably all set on where you’ve been rejected, accepted, deferred, wait listed, and all that other mumbo jumbo. However, with all the letters having just come in, I’m sure you aren’t yet sure exactly which college you plan on attending come next Fall. With all the different factors to weigh in on and consider – location, academics, prestige, and so much more – the college decision process is not an easy one. Although my story only applies to me, I hope you find some insight in your own college decision through my story! NOTE: I have written about this subject before, so hopefully this gives even more insight considering I now have more hindsight (although that is a tongue twister)…

Back when I applied to college (okay, not that nostalgic – it was in 2008 after all), I applied to a total of 10 schools and was accepted to 9 of them. I was accepted at USC, UCLA, UCSD, UCD, UCSB, Texas A & M, University of Illinois, University of Miami, and University of Maryland. My lone denial was the University of California Berkeley. I applied to Electrical Engineering at each school thinking that would be my major. It turns out I was right in my choice, but plenty of people switch majors and aren’t too sure what they will do when they get to college.

Between all the schools I was accepted to, the choice really came down to three schools: USC, Illinois, and Miami. From there, after narrowing down my options, I began to evaluate the different schools on important criteria: academic rankings (for engineering), family input, proximity to home, location, and “campus feel” – the most biased evaluator on the list but also the most telling of which school would be best for me after having visited each campus.

Academic rankings (for engineering): Illinois was the clear winning, being consistently ranked a top 5 EE school for years.

Family input: My mom wanted me to stay close to home, so Miami was a bit far as was Illinois in that you had to drive there from Chicago. My parents and I weren’t too worried about financial details, so USC wins.

Proximity to Home: See above. USC was definitely closest to home.

Location: Having lived in LA for 3 years now, I would say USC wins this. I love Los Angeles and all the options for fun it has to offer. However, at the time, I would say Miami wins. Illinois was in the middle of nowhere and Miami seemed absolutely awesome.

Campus Feel: Like I said, it was the most important ranking. And for this, Miami and USC tied. They both looked beautiful, both felt right for me, and both were very appealing.

In the end, between those categories and the fact my best friend and I were going to go to college at the same place, USC clearly came out on top, both with what it had to offer academically and what it had to offer for the overall college experience. The vibe on campus was great (the Trojan spirit is everywhere, every day), the classes looked challenging and appealing, and all in all it made sense with the categories I evaluated above.

To this day I do not regret my decision at all. If you have more questions feel free to private message me, comment, or tweet at me (@ryanseams)… Below I included a few pictures from back when I went on campus tours with my dad during my senior year of high school. I hope you enjoy and I wish you all the best of luck in your college decisions. Remember to pick somewhere that is right for you and gives you the best opportunity for a great college experience, whether it be inside the classroom or out.