Which College to Choose? Try Our Thinking Hats

You’ve received your financial aid letters, calculated the costs, and compared your offers. It’s time to choose a college.

Where to begin? How do you make the best possible decision?

Two or three colleges (or more!) may seem great. What should you be thinking about? What should thrill you? What should concern you?

Let’s make this decision easier by looking at it from different perspectives.

College counselors have a trick for this: Try putting on a few “thinking hats” to help you make this choice carefully.


Choosing Your College: Thinking Hats

Grab your list of finalists. Think about the first college on the list, putting on one hat at a time. Spend two minutes on each hat, jotting down anything you can think of. Then move on. We offer some possible thoughts below. But you should consider all kinds of questions.


Try the Red Hat: Focus on how you feel with no need to explain

Possible thoughts: I know it’s a lot of money, but this school feels perfect for me. This school seems too hectic and confusing. The students seem nice here.


Try the Yellow Hat: Focus on the opportunities and benefits

Possible thoughts: This isn’t my top school, but they’re giving me the most money. I’m nervous about going to college out of town, but it’s pretty affordable to get home for weekend trips.


Try the Black Hat: Focus on legitimate concerns and risks

Possible thoughts: I’ll have to take out a big loan to go here, and my goal is to graduate as close to debt-free as possible. The classes are in big lecture halls. Will I get enough attention?


Try the Blue Hat: Focus on the process and following the rules

Possible thoughts: How does this college rank among my other choices? Will it be worth my investment? What does my family think about this college?


Try the Green Hat: Focus on facts and figuring out what you don’t know

Possible thoughts: Do most kids graduate, or do too many drop out? How much will I have to borrow? How does the money I’m getting from this college compare to others?


Other questions about making your decision and choosing your college? Here are answers to some frequent questions we get from students.

Money questions? Get more information below.

Decided on Your College? Or Not Yet? What’s Up Next

I’ve Chosen My College. Now How Do I Pay for It? Five Steps to Get Started

Money Questions? Call Your College Financial Aid Office