How to Choose a College


top view of table with arrows pointing to different paths

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of choosing a college? We understand how intimidating it can seem. Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you can make in life—with tons of factors involved like affordability, accreditation, location vs. online.

While these considerations may seem complicated and overwhelming, don’t get discouraged! We’re experts at helping students research colleges and choose the right degree path.

Check out these tips to get started!

1.       Clarify your career goals

Figuring out your professional goals may seem like a tough place to start. Perhaps you’d prefer to delay choosing a college major until after you’ve started college. However, we encourage you to start with the end in mind.

Having a general idea of what you’d like to do after college will help you determine what type of education you’ll need. In turn, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices based on colleges that specialize in your preferred subjects of interest.

To figure out your career goals and preferred degree majors, start by answering these five questions.

2.       In-person or online college?

Now that you have an idea of what you’d like to study, it’ll be easier to look for colleges that specialize in your major. But wait… there’s another decision to make first! Do you want to go to college online or in-person?

Here are a few of the top reasons you might choose one over the other:


  • Flexible schedule
  • Lower cost
  • Greater accessibility


  • Hands-on learning
  • Social/extracurricular activities
  • Campus living

If you choose online college…

You’ll have an array of options readily available at your fingertips. Even many previously in-person campuses now offer online degree programs – or a mix of online and in-person. You’ll also have opportunities to knock out your general education courses through a flexible program (like ours)—at a lower cost—and then transfer that credit into your graduating institution to finish out your degree.

Since the pandemic, online degrees have become more mainstream and legitimized. Still, it’s important to find quality online learning. You can do that by making sure your online institution has regional accreditation. This is the standard accepted across a broad spectrum of institutions. It ensures that your hard-earned college credit is valid and can transfer to almost any college or university of your choice. (All of our Accelerated Pathways courses are regionally accredited and guaranteed to transfer!)

If you choose in-person college…

There will be several factors to consider, including whether you want to live on-campus (in a dorm) or off-campus. In addition to researching housing options, you’ll need to consider location, transportation, campus atmosphere, facilities, accessibility, course schedules, extracurricular activities and additional costs like meals, utilities, facility fees, etc.

Once you have a few colleges in mind, it’s a great idea to visit them or do a campus tour. This will allow you to get a better understanding of the logistics and other details you may not have previously considered. You’ll have a better opportunity to compare campuses and figure out the best fit based on your unique needs. On your visits, be sure to ask any questions that you’re still unsure about—clarify your perception vs. the reality of attendance.

3.       Talk with an academic advisor

Here’s the best news about choosing a college… help is available! There are experts who know all the ins-and-outs of college admissions, degree programs, costs and more. They can help you navigate your way to the right school.

In fact, our academic advisors do your college research for you... for free! We factor in:

  • Which majors interest you?
  • How many hours per week can you study?
  • What do you want out of your college experience?
  • Have you’ve already earned any college credit?

Our academic advisor will conduct intensive research of thousands of colleges based specifically on your circumstance and preferences. They’ll even find out which colleges accept any prior credit you may have. Finally, they'll give you a custom College Options Report with a side-by-side comparison of the degree programs that best fit your preferences.

While each educational institution has its own academic advisors who can tell you about their specific college programs, the academic advisors at Accelerated Pathways help you shop around and compare colleges. Why? Because we provide a different type of degree program—one that empowers you to earn your general education credit—fast and cheap—and then transfer it seamlessly to the college of your choice.

4.       Compare your final options

Once you narrow down your options, you’ll want to make final comparisons.

Consider key factors like:

  • Which of the degrees can I obtain the fastest?   
  • Which of the schools costs the least?
  • Which of the options accepts most of my prior credit?
  • Which degree can I finish completely online?

If you chat with one of our academic advisors, we'll carefully walk you through the College Options Report and explain the breakdown of colleges by degree, transferable credit, time to completion, cost and other important factors. In addition, you should go over these comparisons with parents, mentors or significant others. This is a big decision that may affect them too.

5.       Commit and work hard

Once you have enough information to make a college choice, commit to it and work hard! College will be difficult. It’ll require a lot of your time, focus and energy, and there will be moments when you just want to give up. Try to remember your intrinsic motivation, and think about why you wanted to be a better version of yourself—personally and professionally. Just know, you’re building a better future each time you sit down to study!


Ready for a free college consultation from one of our world-class academic advisors? Why not find out your college options and get expert help making the right choice. Get started here!

We think college can be affordable, flexible, and purposeful. And we're here to show you how.