Written by University of Utah student and StepUp Federal Work-Study Employee Marcella Sweet – Posted on February 12, 2019

When I was a senior in high school deciding where to send my college admissions applications, I chose a private, out-of-state college without really knowing what I wanted to do, what I needed from a school, or considering other alternatives. I attended high school at a small, private school in California and I felt I should attend a smaller college because (secretly) the thought of a large university scared me. I chose a small, private college because its size made it feel similar to my high school, which made me feel more comfortable about taking the next step.

The school I attended is an excellent college, but it was not the right fit for me. During my first year, I was unhappy. I struggled to do well in my classes and had a hard time affording tuition. Eventually, I transferred to a community college and then to a public, 4-year university. Looking back, I wish I had started at one of these schools in the first place – not because my first choice was a bad place, but because I chose it for all the wrong reasons. This way of thinking cost me greatly and ended up pushing my graduation finish line out two extra years.


The purpose of sharing my story is not to convince you to avoid a small, private college. Instead, my goal is to show you how important it is to really understand what you what to gain from your college experience so you can choose the school that’s right for you.


When choosing your college or university, consider things such as the majors they offer, student body size, proximity to home, and cost. For ideas and more information, check out our Utah College Directory or our YouTube videos.

Marcella is a Federal Work-Study student with UHEAA and StepUp Utah. She is currently completing her final year of undergraduate coursework at the University of Utah.