Picking the school matters a TON, and also doesn’t matter at all
Some students applying to study abroad in the U.S. feel like if they get in to any school with a good reputation, they’ll be happy. Others base their decision (on where to apply and eventually where to go) on rankings alone. Then they end up in a small town in Nebraska or Maine and realize that it was a giant mistake to go from a vibrant city to a small sleepy town or they end up in New York or Los Angeles and feel overwhelmed by people, all the time. Choosing a college is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a young adult; avoid regretting your decision by doing research beyond “Top 20 _______ programs in America”, and base your choice on how many characteristics and traits fits together. It is much like picking a best friend, it is a wide range of characteristics that make a “connection”, not just a popularity assessment.
The greatest part about this huge decision, however, is that wherever you end up you can make a place for yourself. Whether you get into your dream school or end up at a “safety”, the four years you spend there – what you do with them – is entirely up to you. It can be a transformative experience that sets in motion your plan for life, no matter where you go.