There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States. How do you choose the perfect college for you? There are four major areas you should keep in mind when looking for a college: your major, college location (relative to your hometown), college size, college atmosphere, and college price.

Look up all the colleges that offer an accredited program for your major. Universities and colleges may offer a major but does not have an accredited program. If the program is not accredited you may get a degree and no job because employers won’t accept your degree as valid. Also if you want to have a career that will require you to go to graduate school, look up colleges and universities with accelerated programs (i.e. you get an advance degree in less time).

Narrow that list of colleges and universities by distance. Do you want to be able to go home every weekend? Are you okay with only being able to go home during Christmas and the summer?

Narrow that list by school size. Do you want to go to a school with over 10,000 students? Or do you want to go to school with less than 5,000?

Narrow that list by the college atmosphere. Every college is different. Every college has its own rules, policies, and structure that shapes the feel of the college. Does students hanging out in a grassy area appeal to you? Do you want a school that cares about the environment? Would you like having the football stadium on campus?

Finally, look at the price of the schools on your list. My father told me choosing college is a business decision, and he was right. You are making an investment into your future. College is supposed to last four to five years, but college debt can last over twenty years. If you can get a full ride scholarship to that beautiful, private college, go ahead. If not, take another look at that in state school before considering taking out a $30,000 loan every year.