Choosing your college is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. The choices you make now could affect the rest of your life in profound ways… so how do you know if you’re making the right decision?

Read: Know the 5 Types of Colleges for Admissions Success

You’ll get a lot of advice as you try to answer that question. While all that advice comes from a good place of wanting to help, there’s some advice you just shouldn’t take.

You Should Go to MY College

This is a common piece of advice from older friends, siblings, and even parents. Most people are proud of their alma mater, and that’s great! But just because their school is a good fit for them, doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for you.

That doesn’t mean you should completely dismiss their advice. One of the best ways to learn about a college is to hear about it from a current student or an alum, so ask questions and listen carefully. But remember that you're the one going to college, not them.

Just Follow Your Heart

This sounds like great advice at first, and there's value in it. You should definitely pursue something you love.

But, following your heart doesn’t mean not using your head.

Remember what you’re going to college for in the first place -- to get a college degree and, ultimately, a career in something you love. Pick a school that really helps you achieve your dreams.

And if the field you love happens to have low paying jobs, make sure your college choice reflects that, and you pay a reasonable tuition.

That College? No One Will Respect Your Degree

It’s true that not all schools are the most popular or famous options.

But that’s okay. You’re going to get a college degree, not to enter a popularity contest. This piece of advice is often given to people who want to start at community college. But the truth is that 2-year schools are notoriously undervalued.

First, if anybody cares about where you went to college, they care most about where you graduated from (not where you started.)

Second, people actually don’t care that much about where you went to college in the first place. What matters most are your grades, experiences, and the network you develop.

Plus, community colleges (and to a lesser degree, state colleges) tend to be much more affordable than private 4-year schools.

Do you really want to take on tens of thousands of dollars in extra debt just to go to impress a few people with the name of your school? Nope, didn’t think so.

Read: 6 Infamous Myths About Community College

What’s some of the best (and worst) college advice you’ve ever heard? Let us know in the comments.


Authored by Jared Meyer

Jared specializes in communication in higher education. He writes about getting into college and succeeding once you're there. He's the editor of the American Honors Blog.