Six Influencers in a High School Student’s College Decision

December 1, 2022

As they think about their future, high school students can face a wide range of education and career choices. How do they choose? Who helps young people make their educational and ca-reer choices? To what extent do schools help students with these decisions? Do counselors play a role? If they do, how much do they manage to steer? Given the importance of education and career decisions for life success, these are not idle questions.


High school students are influenced by factors from within and outside during their school years. The six critical external factors that influence a student’s decision-making include –


  1. Peers’ fake wisdom: Seemingly strong opinions and discussions of peers about specific streams being more rewarding than others-“STEM pays.”
  2. Parental lost treasure: Tendency to turn their ambitions into the youngster’s life lesson–“You need to make money to survive.”
  3. College rankings: High-ranking colleges make the rest look irrelevant or less remarkable.
  4. Colleges define courses and majors: A case of the tail wagging the dog. There are as many or more happy people from good colleges as elite ones – “I’d rather do General Studies if I can go to a top-rated college”.
  5. High scores reflect interest: High scores in subjects do not necessarily reflect an interest in the subject– “You’re doing well in Chemistry. I am sure you like it.”
  6. Celebrity culture: Influenced by their icons from the school, colleges are preferred by stu-dents-“I like their sports program, so I’d pick any major in this school.”


It’s essential to be mindful of being influenced. Better to make a personal decision than be in collective confusion.