Location, location, location.
It's improtant to know in which environments you thrive. Do you need the hustle of a big city to stimulate you, or do you focus well someplace serene and removed? Staying close to home can have benefits both financial and academic - many students will attest to saving money by living at home and making impressive grades without being distracted by the excitement of a freshman dorm. However, equal numbers will claim that exercising their independence by moving away from home was very benificial to their overall maturity. All of these factors can have an overwhelming affect on your experience as a student, and must be considered. However...Do not choose your college because it is close to the beach, has great weather, offers skiing as a minor, or despite not having anything academic to offer you, is in a city you've always loved. none of the above will benefit you in the long run.