Weighing Factors in Your Decision
Where you decide to go to school often involves a number of considerations. You need to think through these if you are going to make a wise decision. Outlined below are some of the typical considerations college students take into account when deciding on a university to attend.
- Size of the university
- Majors offered
- Cost of attendance
- Closeness to home
- Campus environment
- Friends on campus
- Research opportunities
- Honors programs
- Financial aid/scholarships
- Academic fit
Of course you can add more criteria to your list. Now, how do you decide which criteria are the most important? You can follow the approach outlined below in determining criteria weights.
Step 1: Start with the first item on your criteria list. Compare it to the second item on the list. Which one is more important?
Step 2: Next, compare the item from Step 1 that was considered the most important and compare it to the next item on the list. Which one is more important?
Step 3: Continue doing these one-to-one comparisons until you end up with the most important item on the list.
Step 4: Continue the process outlined in Steps 1-3 until you have developed a ranked list of the criteria. See Attachment A for an example of this.
Step 5: Next, take the list of ranked criteria and determine where on the criteria list to separate:
- The highly important criteria
- The moderately important criteria
- The lesser important criteria
As a rule of thumb, you should have from 1-3 criteria in your highly important category and 1-3 criteria in your lesser important category. See the Attachment A example.
Step 6: Assign weights to each of the criteria so that the total criteria add to 100.
- The highly important criteria should collectively receive a weighting of 40-60 points.
- The lesser important criteria should receive a weighting of from 10-20 points.
- The moderate criteria should receive the remaining points.
The weights assigned to each criteria should reflect the rank order determined in step (4). See the Determining Criteria Weights example below.
Step 7: Use the weighting to rank your possible college selections. See the topic: Understanding University Rankings.
The process outlined here is very analytical and it can be useful in forcing you to focus on what’s really important to you.