1. I would put college expenses as #1 in making the college decision. If the colleges provide you scholarships (not financial aid), it is great. But if they do not, you or your family have to come with the money. In-state public colleges are typically the cheapest and best option. There is no point spending twice or more for out of state colleges in tuition. Loans, financial aids will burden you a lot for many years down the road.
2. Make sure the college offers the course work to support your career. You can get the details on college web sites, open house and attending other events, and even calling up and discussing with the faculty in the specific department you are interested. Try to learn as much about the college course work that is related to your career and see if it all makes sense, and interests you.
3. Closer to home some times is better to be connected better to the family. But it is purely personal. Some like to be close and some like to go far away. Further you go, the costlier it gets as well in terms of travel, out of state expenses etc and ties back to #1.
4. At the end of the day, many a time the college reputation may not play shaping your life/career fully. It is you who are shaping your life and career. No matter which college you go to, learn, shape your personality, learn speaking and presentation skills, and market yourself for success. Irrespective of which college you eventually go to, always work hard and develop your personality and you will succeed.
Think about your future after you graduate college - where do you want to be living (extra circulars, family?, own a house vs condo or renting (cost of living), what field do you want to be working in (tech, wind energy, biology, etc).
What states offer multiple options for employment in that field of work and match the future plans for where you want to live,
Hone in on colleges around that state you want to settle down in. Research your degree at each of those colleges / universities to see if it's available and at the level you want (associates, bachelors, masters, etc). Look for reviews of that school's program. Look at costs to attend each (possibly consider starting at a community college first and transfer credits to finish at the university to save money - make sure the community college you select though does transfer to your university of choice).
Apply for the colleges you choose, apply for scholarships.
Stay attached to the school for internship opportunities and go to career fair type opportunities to see which employers have booths at the shows and ask their advice for best steps while you are in college to have a foot in the door.
1) Specialty - What majors are you considering? Is this school known for a good program in that major? Are you undecided and want a school with lots of good programs in case you switch?
2) Campus environment - What size are you looking for? Would you rather be at a large school with a lot of majors, clubs and activities, but you need to navigate it? Or something smaller with a tighter community and focus?
3) Cost - What can you afford now and in the future? What financial aid is being offered? What is the cost of living (costs beyond tuition like rent and food)?
4) Support system - Is it important to you to know people or be near to friends and family? Or are you looking for somewhere totally new?
5) What do career opportunities look like after graduating from this school? Do they have a strong alumni network and career center? Or are you own your own? What types of jobs do graduates go into?
Tip: At my university, we published a report that showed the types of jobs, salaries and companies of graduating seniors. Ask for this data on your campus visit.
After you reflect on what matters to you, I suggest you write it down and use it to focus your research. You can update this list as you learn more about yourself and what you get excited about on your campus visits. This list can also help you later when you have a few acceptances and are looking to decide what school to attend.
Good luck! Remember that there is no right answer or school. It's all about making the best decision for you.
2) I would consider if you think it's best for you to go to a college a little bit closer to home or if its okay to go a little further away.
3) I personally recommend a little bit larger school (>10k students) so you can meet a bunch of people, join clubs/greek.
4) Consider finances---are your parents going to pay for it, are you taking student loans, do you have scholarships paying for it? If you have to pay for it, I would seriously consider a school that won't make you in a ton of debt by the time you graduate. You could always do a year or two at a community college to knock out some of the general ed classes.