What's negotiable in your college choice

Assuming you can get in, major in what you want and afford it, what things are negotiable?

For me, I DEFINITELY want: a large, secular, liberal, diverse campus.

Weather is basically irrelevant to me. As is the sports and social scene.

This is a great question because most applicants need to be flexible due to
COA (cost-of-attendance). A scholarship or great financial aid may make a factor such as location secondary.

Another important question: What is non-negotiable regarding one’s college choice.

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Seems like what should be non-negotiable are:

  • Affordability.
  • Suitable academic programs and offerings that the student can study.

But many threads show that many students and parents prioritize other things.


Excellent question! I think for my son, the only non negotiables are size, politics, and getting away from hometown. He wants no more than 8k undergrads and a progressive, inclusive, diverse environment. But he didn’t apply to any schools that would be in those non negotiable categories. This will make his decision harder in a lot of ways. He really ended up with a great list of great fit schools with the help of CC!

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Some aspects may be negotiable to a degree, but non-negotiable beyond a certain point.

For example, someone not interested in fraternities and sororities may not find the presence of such objectionable, but may find a social scene dominated by such objectionable.

Or someone not of some religion may not find affiliation with the religion objectionable, but find that strict religion-based rules, required devotional religion courses, or required religious service attendance of the religion objectionable.

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My question was prompted by the fact UNM is much smaller than I expected. ASU emerged as a dark horse for me.

I’d trade slightly smaller if I can STILL get: diverse and progressive activism.

Define “large”. I’d call ASU huge and UNM as medium-large. Both are diverse and secular and lean liberal but are large enough to have all sorts of students and professors on campus.

If you’re a strong student, both offer enough merit to be quite affordable, even for OOS students.


I’d say:

Large 10-20k
Huge: 20k+

Medium: 5-10K

If that’s the case then either UNM or ASU would meet your needs. Both have honors programs/colleges that make a larger school smaller. And give U of Arizona in Tucson a look - also huge but beautiful campus in a very interesting, eclectic, diverse city with beautiful mountains and high desert nearby. U of AZ recently inaugurated a new Honors College, including a new dorm, and merit is available for OOS students.


@mamaedefamilia ZONA is DEFINITELY on my preliminary list!

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As parents, ours was affordability. We couldn’t afford to let them fall in love with an unaffordable school.
As students, non negotiables for them was that the college had to be diverse and could not be in state. Neither applied to an in state school. They most definitely wanted to get out of Dodge :rofl:


@Meddy my “Dodge” is Glendive.

Throughout the entire process, keep an open mind about what you think you want and what might make you happy that isn’t what you originally thought. My youngest child wanted to go to school in a “big city”; but after a last-minute trip in the Fall semester of his senior year in high school, he fell in love with a school that hadn’t been on his radar previously, and opted to attend school in a small town in the Midwest (albeit at a large, Big 10 university).

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That’s very true! I’m more focused on enrollment over metro population. BTW: was it Bloomington or West Layfyette?

West Lafayette. Of course, the university takes the place of being a small city there.

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