Choosing a college should be a reflection of who you are and what you hope to become. In a way, the real purpose of college should expand beyond receiving a quality education, but also growing as a person and a leader. Hence, the most important factors in choosing a college depend on your own interests, values, goals, beliefs, views, strengths, and weaknesses. I could list the usual suspects such as graduation rate, diversity, class size, reputation, professors, extracurricular activities, etc. However, what you might deem as a top priority someone else might not. Also, the tradeoffs among the different factors that each individual is willing to make may vary.
Our advice is to construct a list of your goals, views, interests, values, etc. that are important to you, prioritize these factors, and check off which colleges harmonize with the highest numbers of these factors because each college will have tradeoffs. For example, Harvard is known for its innovative research, which may come at the cost of large class size and less access to certain professors. When you establish what is most important to your future, the right college will fit like a glove. You will have the feeling that this college is right for me!