Worst ways to choose a college

The college process™ is difficult, but there’s no need to fear—James Libbey is here!

James LIbbey puts the cool in the college process.

Caroline Murphy

James LIbbey puts the “cool” in the college process.

James Libbey, News Editor

School Colors

Rather ironically, my mother started suggesting colleges based on their how their colors looked on me. Now don’t get me wrong, some colors just don’t work for some people, and I’ve never written or cared about fashion (for better or for worse) in my life. However, there should be more important factors in making a college decision than school colors.

School Mascot

Basing your decision on the sports teams is actually rather reasonable if that’s important to you, but the school mascot itself is terrible unless you plan on being that guy in the suit. Even then, nobody should know that it’s you under the giant head anyways. Why not the mascot? Because you’re going to regret it if you’re the “banana slug” at Santa Cruz.

Your Friend’s Approval

If they don’t like your college, odds are they won’t go there.

How dumb or cool the name is

True, this method worked perfectly in my March Madness bracket for predicting that Gonzaga would make it to the finals, but your college decision isn’t a basketball bracket. The college name is only a brand label. I don’t care if my cookies are called Oreos or the Up&Up knockoff, I just want to make sure I’m having a cookie.

Whether or not there’s a tabletop RPG club

First, why? There are countless clubs and activities that you could be doing instead, why care about this one? Second, I (rather conveniently) know that most colleges have one of these, so don’t waste your time researching this. As an admissions officer told me, “they always find each other.”


I know many people that don’t even bother reading the mail they receive from colleges because it’s fairly common knowledge how horrible deciding a college this way is. I’ll admit, I had no idea that one of my top colleges existed until I received mail from it, but sometimes colleges go too far. I mean, I almost committed to Michigan Tech on the spot before even applying when I received a (much needed) razor in the mail. My parents were appalled at my impetus and told me to reconsider.

Free stuff at the college fair

This is just like with the mail; don’t just go to the school that gave you the coolest stuff at the college fair. You don’t need to feel like a traitor for using that Case Western mechanical pencil when you’re planning to go to Madison; you’re just getting a head start on how college students operate: mooching off free supplies and samples at giveaways.

Being indecisive

This is a bit of a paradox, but I’ve been there and know that this temptation is real. I understand that it’s difficult to reject colleges, but you aren’t hurting anybody’s feelings. Just say no. There’s no reason for a prospective engineering student to be considering St. Olaf, nor should an art student have their dream school be MIT. Cut down your list; making no decision is one of the worst ways to make a decision.