Dear Dr. Linda,

We’re in a situation we never expected to be in. It’s a good one so I’m not complaining, but our daughter has no idea what she should do and we’re not too sure either.

Here’s the problem: She was accepted to all the colleges she applied to. Plus, the private schools are giving her nice-sized scholarships so we’re ending up less money than we would pay for the state schools. Here’s the list: Boston University, University of Vermont, University of Rochester, American University, Stony Brook, Tufts, NYU and Buffalo. I know you don’t know her, but just curious if you have a preference.

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Dr. Abby,

You certainly do have a good problem. And since none of us has a crystal ball, it’s hard to make a decision. But, for beginners, obviously, she was also accepted to her “reach” schools. To some, once you’re accepted to your reach school, the decision is made. To them, the higher level the school, the more success in the future. In some cases, they’re right, but not always.

Years ago, I had a student who was given a full four-year scholarship to a top-tier school. But she wanted to go to a particular Ivy League school to which she was also accepted. The problem was that the latter had offered no financial help. However, she wanted it so badly that her parents gave in and that’s where she went.

Today, she’s a science teacher in a public school. There is nothing wrong with being a science teacher, but did she need an Ivy League school to be hired? There was another student who was accepted to MIT, but the parents couldn’t afford it, so he went to a state school. He’s an engineer now in an outstanding firm. Again, would he have been offered a higher-level position if he had gone to MIT? I don’t think so. The examples go on and on.

The particular college you go to or how you receive a degree should be considered in light of your longer-term goals. If you want to be an attorney in a big firm on Wall Street, the name of the schools you graduated from probably make a big difference. If you want to teach in a public school, probably not so much.

So, how do you decide? It all boils down to your values and goals. Here’s some things to consider when making your decision.

• Where do you want to live for four years? Rural setting, urban setting, big city, little town?

• What size school do you want to go to? 2,000, 4,000, 10,000, over 20, 000?

• Do you want to be in a school with a great football team? Do you love school spirit, or you could care less about that?

• Does the school have an opportunity to study abroad or you wouldn’t study abroad even if it did?

• What type of housing do they provide?

• Do you want to live closer to home or the further away you go is better?

• Does the school have the majors you may be interested in?

• Will the professors give you personal attention or will you have to go to a TA, teaching assistant for help?

• Who’s teaching the course? A professor or a TA?

• What is the student-teacher ratio?

• Does it provide career counseling services?

• What is the course availability?

• Do you want a school with sororities and fraternities?

• Does it have a religious affiliation?

• Does it specialize in one specific area or is it more of a liberal arts school?

 Most things in life are not set in stone. College is one of those things. You can always transfer if you make what is a wrong decision for you at first. Even though you want your decision to be for the best, sometimes it’s not. The important thing is that you’re able to regroup if you find you’ve made a decision that’s not in your best interests and move on!

Dr. Linda

Dr. Linda is co-author of “Why Bad Grades Happen to Good Kids,” and director of Strong Learning Tutoring and SAT/ACT Test Prep. Submit questions using the contact form at or visit her on