imagesZBKOHD4TChoosing the right university is not an easy process. The course of your entire life depends on your decision and that can be stressful. Many students begin thinking about what college they would like to attend while still in high school, but ultimately most wait until after graduation to make a final decision. With so many universities to choose from, deciding which one suits you best is one of the biggest life decisions you will make. Avoid these five key mistakes students make in choosing a university.

1. Rushing the process and not doing enough research. This is the number one mistake most soon-to-be-freshmen make when choosing a university. It takes time and effort to find the right college. Many students forgo the research process because it takes too much time and hope to “fall into” the perfect university. This is a bad idea: not doing proper research or waiting until the last minute may take you in a direction you don’t want to go, wasting time and money in the end.

2. Being a follower. Going off to college is a scary thought for many students. For this reason, following a good friend, boyfriend or girlfriends seems like a good idea. However, this is one of the most pivotal times in your life, and choosing a university that is right for you is what is most important. Strong relationships will stand the test of time and distance, so make your choices wisely based on what is best for you.

3.  Being afraid to take a chance. Universities look at a lot more than just academic records. Just because your grades may not have been perfect, does not mean you don’t stand a chance of getting into a good college. Your list of universities should include a wide range of schools you would like to attend, including ones you think you may not be accepted into. In addition, it is common for college students to be afraid of leaving home for the first time. Everyone experiences a level of homesickness in his or her first year. Don’t let this influence your decision to attend an out-of-state university; you may miss the opportunity of a lifetime.

4. Continuing the legacy. If you come from a long line of college graduates who attended the same university, family influence may try to persuade your choice of schools. While it may be a lovely story to tell your children and grandchildren someday, choosing a university solely on “my father and grandfather went there” may not be in your best interest. It is best to do your research and make a decision based on what is right for you.

5. Cost. There is no denying that going to college costs a lot of money. However, choosing a school bases solely on this aspect is unwise. There are many other aspects to consider besides cost when deciding which university to attend. If cost seems to be a deciding factor, there is financial aid available to alleviate some of the worry. On the other hand, if someone else is paying part or all of your college tuition, it is important to consider the cost of attending a university because it can add up quickly.