The Big Factors of Choosing the Right College


Senior Lavinia Kizer with a college acceptance letter

Grace Rickey, Reporter

With college decision deadlines looming, Novato High seniors are frantically searching for the most-advised answer in this critical time. As many struggle with the concept of how this momentous decision will impact their futures, they often look at specific factors to help aid their decision-making process.

Novato High is home to an extraordinarily diverse senior class, which coincides with their disparate plans for the future. An array of factors come into play during this pivotal time such as location, cost of tuition, safety, distance from home, athletics, job opportunities, and quality of education.

Senior Gavin McMickin is weighing his different college options. 

“The factors that go into making your college decision starts with finding a good college town that you connect with,” McMickin shared. “For me, it was important to find a place where I could do what I love and snowboard yet not have to travel to do it. It really stood out to me how the University of Utah had a rental shop for snow gear on campus. This also allows me to connect with people who share a similar passion and find a network through that. Not to mention, I think taking a college tour has a big impact on the decision as it’s important to see what each school you got into is really like in person.” 

Senior Lavinia Kizer provided her input as a student who is academically driven yet also looking to continue with her musical career in college. 

“I’m looking for a very strong program and a school that coincidingly takes that program seriously,” Kizer stated. “Specifically, I only applied to schools with a Native American Studies major which is definitely unique and narrows my options. I think it’s important to find the perfect balance of a rigorous school curriculum that is also manageable. I want rigor but I also am going to ultimately choose the school that’s best for my needs. For music, I want a school where they have a solid, large orchestra that is well-known and successful. 

Kizer knows a focus on music will be a determining factor.

“I want to go to a big liberal arts, music school where my journey there could transcribe into the future. I need them to take their music and academics seriously, instead of schools that have smaller programs,” she said. 

A very well-rounded and academically-inclined student chose to remain anonymous as they shared the factors that aided their college decision process.

“The main factors I took into account when looking at colleges were location and specific programs. As a performer, I knew I wanted to be somewhere that was accessible to a big city. I also knew that I wanted to be on the West or East coast because being accustomed to living near water was something that was important to me. I did prefer to find a school in a suburban setting with a relatively smaller undergraduate population to keep a familiar sense of home. For specific programs, I looked at schools that incorporated my passion for learning languages while having an influential and large arts environment. In addition to this, I looked at the university support in terms of approaching a graduate degree and establishing a career. The alumni networks of my college options were also a big factor,” they said.

This student reflected on the importance of making the right decision.

 “At the end of the day, the college application process is something most people only go through once in their life. It’s important to stay true to yourself. It’s not a competition and on the contrary, it’s very subjective. You want to be an authentic representation of who you are. If you are confident in yourself, trust that everything will work out the way the world has intended it to work out for you. All will be okay,” they added.

Senior Kiana Briggs, who committed to UC Irvine with a golf scholarship during her junior year, discussed the college decision making process as an athlete. 

“My search first started with looking at places where I could see myself playing golf all year round,” Briggs shared. “Initially, I was thinking about Southern California and the East Coast. UC Irvine had a really good golf program with a super supportive coach which stood out to me. They had super nice practice facilities and I love how much they traveled for tournaments. They go to both Hawaii and New Mexico amongst other nice places. I think as an athlete, scholarship opportunities definitely help, but I wouldn’t say that they’re the end all be all. It’s not as much the financial aspect as much as it is important to go somewhere where I was actually going to get a spot on the team and play.”

Senior Brooke Slovensky described her thought process as someone who’s looking at competitive colleges.

“I would have to say one of the things for me has been looking at schools in the state since I know in-state tuition is a big factor for a lot of people,” Slovesnky opened up. “I think the location is a big factor because you’re going into the next four years of being on your own for the first time. I think Southern California is a popular happy medium for a lot of students because it’s still a big change of scenery and the lifestyle is different yet it’s still a car ride away and a relatively safe area. For some schools, I’ve been looking into Environmental Landscape and Architecture as my major and not a lot of schools offer that so I think it’s also really big to find a school with a specific major that you’re passionate about.”