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How To Choose The Right College

What makes a school the right one for your child?

We can’t all go to Harvard. We wouldn’t even all want to. There are so many different colleges and universities thriving because what’s best for one student isn’t always what’s best for another. What we’re seeking in the quest for the perfect alma mater for our kids is going to depend on a lot of different factors.

Huffington Post just ran a story on the friendliest colleges out there. Friendliness wasn’t even on my list of things to look at when I was choosing a college. My stepson is getting ready to do his college applications, and I don’t think he had “friendly” on his list of criteria either. What other college-choosing criteria might we be overlooking? Here’s a list of ways colleges stack up against each other on factors ranging from academic excellence to safety.

The specific schools at the top of each category might change year to year, but these are all good things to consider before you drop your kid, and your life savings, off at a college campus.

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  • The School Of Life 1 of 7
    The School Of Life
    College isn't even the right choice for some people. You may leave high school and find your way into a volunteer program like AmeriCorps, a year of travel, or even a *gasp* real job.
  • The Friendliest Colleges 2 of 7
    The Friendliest Colleges
    We go to school to learn, but it's also where many of us form lifelong friendships. If finding your BFFs is high on your college to-do list, check out the Huffington Post's list of the friendliest colleges. Carleton College tops their list.
  • The Best of The Best 3 of 7
    The Best of The Best
    You want the best education out there. Academics are totally your thing, and being taught by the brightest minds is your goal. We don't all want to go to Harvard, but you probably do. U.S. News and World Report ranks Harvard #1 amongst national universities, followed by Princeton and Yale.
  • The Best Study Abroad Programs 4 of 7
    The Best Study Abroad Programs
    If travel is your goal, U.S. News ranks American University your best bet. Most schools have study abroad programs these days: the trick may be to find one that lets you study in the particular country you want to visit.
  • The Safest Schools 5 of 7
    The Safest Schools
    Is safety your number one concern? The Daily Beast has you covered with a list of the safest college campuses. Top of their list: Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin.
  • The Best Sports Programs 6 of 7
    The Best Sports Programs
    Some people go to college to play sports. Depending on your sport, you'll want to pursue the best school for that activity. newsmax has a round-up of the best colleges in five different sports. For football, they vote for the University of Michigan.
  • The Best Bargains 7 of 7
    The Best Bargains
    College is expensive, and getting more so all the time. Weighing the quality of education against the cost can be hard. According to U.S. News, though, the best schools are also the best bargains. Yale comes out on top, trailed by Harvard and Princeton.

Money on your mind? Look into Babble’s Expert Advice for Panic-Free College Savings!

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