The big decision: Students share their advice on college choice

A group of students pose with CAM the Ram.

Having a hard time deciding which college to attend?

You’re not alone.

If you’ve been admitted to multiple colleges, making a final decision can be tough. For some, it comes down to a gut feeling. For others, it’s about their major, financial aid, or something else entirely.

We talked to three current students who have been through the situation and asked them how they handled it. Read on to find out how they made their choice and what you should consider as you make yours.

“Look for the place that feels like home.”

Jo Smeby

Equine Science and Agricultural Education: Teacher Development


Why did you choose CSU?

I knew I wanted to go out of state and Colorado had been calling my name for years. Since my grandma lives about an hour from campus, I used to spend a few weeks every summer visiting. The Colorado sun was quite the juxtaposition to the Seattle rain I had grown up with, so I was very excited for the mountains and sunny days.

CSU offers a wide spectrum of academic programs with easy options to mix-and-match various academic interests. As a student with many passions, that really stood out to me because I knew I would be encouraged to explore anything and everything.

When did you realize CSU was the school for you?

I realized CSU was the school for me when I realized there is an Equine Science major offered here. Come to find out, we are one of two land-grant institutions in the country that offer a four-year degree in the program I knew I was extremely passionate about. Academics was incredibly important to me in my college search.

I wish I had the opportunity to visit campus and take a tour before I started here. Living in Washington state and being a very busy high schooler made it difficult to find time to take an official tour. If I had, I would have seen what an amazing community of fellow students CSU has, but I am so grateful that I get the chance to experience it every day I spend as a CSU Ram.

Do you have any advice on choosing a college?

My advice is to look for the place that feels like home. Growing up, my trips to Colorado to visit my grandma always felt like coming home so I was ecstatic to come and live in Fort Collins for school!

It is also important that the school you choose will give you the chance to further your goals. Find somewhere that will give you opportunities to dive into your current passions but also will encourage you to explore new ones.

Above all, my biggest advice is say yes! Say yes to the things that push you out of your comfort zone, and say yes to the things that make you feel the most at home.

“Decide what it is you’re looking for.”


Jennifer Gutierrez

International Studies; Spanish Language, Literature and Culture

Political Science

Why did you choose CSU?

Aside from proximity to home and what was financially fit for me, I thought a tremendous amount of what type of support schools could offer me. I came from a small high school with a graduating class of 65 students. 1:1 help was always accessible, whether it was about academics or a personal issue. Support was always there and got me through some difficult times in high school.

Thinking of all the challenges I would have to overcome in college, it was a top priority for me to find a school with this same level of individual support I learn best from and succeed with. Throughout my college search I did not have the guidance from a high school counselor or the opportunity to personally visit each school, so I took it upon myself to email each school. CSU happened to answer in the most timely manner and in the most personalized way, so much so that they gave me direct contacts to specific offices I had questions for.

I was amazed to see the authenticity each office offered with their answers to my questions, and all through email at that. My experience with the Office of Financial Aid was amazing. To have someone walk me through my financial aid package in such a detailed way and in a vocabulary that didn’t leave me even more confused, that spoke volumes to me. At this point when I wasn’t even a fully committed student out of a large pool of applicants and the student body, CSU gave me the 1:1 help I needed.

When did you realize CSU was the school for you?

I committed to CSU having only toured the campus through a very informal high school group tour where, as freshman at the time, we only cared about the food court. Upon actually stepping foot on this campus as a first generation student, I was at peace to know that this school gave me the environment I needed, quite literally. The green space around campus makes all the difference. It’s given me room to breathe and to remind myself it’s not all about academics. For so long, I was driven by perfectionism and dove so deep into academics that I would sometimes drown in the pressure of it, but this school reminded me how much more there is to explore and live to see. A part of me realized from just a few weeks of being on campus that this school was for me. It pulled me out of my tunnel vision of academics all for good reasons, something not even my friends were able to do.

However, I think what was really my turning point was the help I continued to get as a student. I still have a professor from my first semester who contacts me every month to check in, and my international advisor mentally and physically prepared me hand-in-hand for my very first international trip and now has pushed me to my dream program abroad to wrap up my last year.

Do you have any advice on choosing a college?

My biggest piece of advice is to not follow friends or family, and much less to only consider financial fit. Financial fit was a large deciding factor for myself, and by no means do I regret the influence this had on my choice. After coming to CSU and realizing the scholarship opportunities available to students on a campus with so much guidance, I now know that I could have made something my financial fit if I had decided otherwise. Lastly, as cliché as it sounds, step out of your comfort zone. It will bring that much more opportunity to explore and truly live. I met my best friend that has kept me sane throughout college on a retreat I, an introvert, applied for on a total whim and almost regretted.  You never know what activity or program will bring you to a person or an opportunity that is life changing.

“Choose a school where you believe you can succeed.”

Noah Janzig

Noah Janzing

Animal Science

Agricultural Business

Why did you choose CSU?

Knowing I wanted to study Animal Sciences, I was persuaded to look at universities outside of my home state of California. It was shortly after that I stumbled on CSU’s website and became aware of our Agricultural College.

Upon visiting campus, I was instantly drawn in by the modern buildings and numerous experiential learning and research opportunities for my major.

When did you realize CSU was the school for you?

After I completed my first semester. It was through my exploration of what CSU and the College of Ag had to offer that I found my place on campus.

From working in my department, to belonging in many organizations like Ag Ambassadors, I found it enjoyable to branch out and easy to love this university.

Do you have any advice on choosing a college?

More than anything, you have to choose a school where you believe you can succeed.

Speaking on behalf of all students, it is easy to say the faculty and staff [at CSU] push for academic and social success. This university has numerous learning as well as professional development opportunities that set it apart from its competitors. I’m thankful I chose CSU every day, and I’m sure you will be too.

Why CSU?

Follow along as current students explain why CSU was right for them.