There will be every kind of activity and lifestyle available to you in college, but the most important thing is to remember that your main responsibility there is to learn. There are going to be temptations everywhere; however, if you have strong values you won't let yourself slip up and you will get the most out of your college experience. The key is knowing how to balance your time! Don't overexert yourself at the library and don't spend every night out, just find a good balance so that you will be able to enjoy your life in college and not have your grades pay the price for it.
A smaller school will probably allow you to be social and yet not get jaded about it, as relationships can be fostered and maintained easily if you can incidentally pass a friendly face you know more than once a day on the way to classes. Also, be aware of what makes you uncomfortable. You do not want to be stuck in dormitory suite with messy or loud people if your high-maintenance and require a lot of privacy. At the same time, continue to expose yourself to new things as college is a time to test your boundaries and comforts. Be open-minded but evaluate your growth and feelings.
My advice is to be creative and adventerous. I went to a high school where 85% of my class mates went on the same state school. I decided to go to an amazing city to live on my own and go to a school with unconventional ways of learning. Also, choose a school that offers a great college experience with student activities and school organizations such as student run radio stations, newspapers, ensambles, work study, ect. Most importantly, GET INVOLVED. Get out there and start your experience while you're still learning. You might even make some money while doing what you love.
When choosing a college, I feel it is important to feel a connection with the college. Is it a place you can imagine yourself growing and developing into the person you are meant to be? Are you comfortable with the campus, professors, and other students? I also highly recommend seeing how alumni view their experiences at the school. When they swell with pride and loyalty, you know that it is a place they once cherished. Another good aspect to look into is the course requirements and if they meet your future career needs.
Start looking at colleges early. Leave yourself enough time to visit and think about each one. What feeling does each campus give you? Do students and professors seem friendly? Do you think you could feel at home here? Sometimes the right choice jumps out at you. Once you begin college, just be yourself. Participate in orientation activities; they're a great way to meet people. Join clubs that appeal to you. Take interesting classes. Volunteer in the community. Living on-campus can be a lot of fun, plus it's convenient!
First the student should know what they are interseted in and see what fields they can get into that they would enjoy. Then pick a college which is strong in their interests. Parents should never try to pick what college their kids should go to. Because usually the kid ends up hating it because its not what they wanted. Parents should just be supportive in what ever their kid decides. And if the kid doesn't know, then the parents should ask what they are interested in and guide them in their decisions.
Parents: I think it is important for you to be active in your child's college choices. They are adults, and it is their first adult decision, but it is nice to have your feedback. We hate to admit we are not really ready to let go of you either. Students: Even if you don't end up at your dream school, make the most of your situation. There are so many people who look back and wish they would have gone to college. You have the opportunity, make the best of it, and be great in whatever you do!
Find a school that is relatively small. During Hurricane Katrina, I went to Louisiana State University, where the classes were quite large (50-500 people). I had no connection to the teacher at all... I was a number, not a name. It was extremely difficult to schedule a meeting with my teachers. At a smaller school with smaller classes, a student will be able to develop a healthy student-teacher relationship that is critical to the development to the student.
Many people suggest to high school students to go to college right after you graduate. More and more people are going to college, making the "norm" rather than the exception. Where people previously relied on college education to set them apart from their peers, it is not as significant in making you stand out. Decide what you want to go to school for first, that way you can avoid going to college for a fifth year, as a large percentage of students now do.
Visit the college of your choice before attending. You may learn and see things that you did not expect. Spend a day in the life of a college student to learn the realities of college - the workload and the pressure. Also, be encouraged in knowing that you will meet the people that will be your friends for the rest of your life! Don't be shy - get to know people! The college experience is much more fun and worth-while when you are outgoing and adventurous!