It took me a long time to pick Queen's University for undergrad. Once I got here, it took even longer to really feel like I'd made the right choice. Whether you're picking a university for the first time or considering transferring to a new school, you have an important decision to make.

There are lots of factors that are important to consider and some you're probably worried about that don't actually make a huge difference. The experience of trying to pick the right school is going to be different for all of us, but these are a few things that I considered and helped me make the right choice.

1. Where My Friends Are Going

A major stress source but ultimately not very important. 

There were two things I worried about when picking Queen's. First, not a lot of my closest high school friends were going. At the same time, a huge amount of people from my high school were going to Queen's. I was more worried about the latter because I thought I'd cling to my high school friends and I wouldn't branch out.

I think most people have this worry when considering a big school like Queen's or Western that will have a lot of people from their high school. During frosh week, my closest friend from high school that went to Queen's and I decided to branch out and spend less time together.

I was definitely really lonely for a while, and it took me over two months to make close new friends, but now I can't imagine not having those people in my life. 

No matter what school you're going to, you'll be able to branch out and meet new people if you really try to. In the picture are two of my closest friends; one I've known since I was five and goes to Western and one I met at Queen's. You will find your people no matter where you go, so don't stress out about this too much!

2. Location

No planes but also no commuting from home. 

Lui Xia Lee

Location was really important for me. I'm from the wonderful city of Toronto and I wanted to be able to come home often. I was absolutely not going to get on a plane to go to school. This made a big difference in first year especially because I was pretty homesick. 

Another reason I picked Queen's is that it isn't in Toronto. I didn't want to commute to school or live at home. A lot of people go that route and are very happy, but for me, I knew I wanted the experience of living with other students and away from my parents. 

3. Program

Probably should have thought about this a little more. 

This is important. This is going to be what you are studying, learning about and getting a degree in. When I was applying I applied to three schools; McMaster, Guelph and Queen's. The programs I applied to were Health Science (McMaster), Bachelor of Arts and Science (Guelph), Bachelor of Science (Queen's) and Engineering (Queen's).

Clearly, my applications had almost nothing in common. For each school I applied to different programs. This was probably a mistake because it meant if I wanted to do a certain program I only had one school as an option.

It is also important to compare programs at different schools. Some programs at certain schools might offer a co-op placement or an internship. You should also consider what graduates did after with their degree and compare program reputations. I did not give this enough thought and did not research this nearly enough. 

It worked out for me and I am happy in the Engineering program at Queen's. This was a very last minute decision as I didn't think I'd be doing engineering until I saw the acceptance letter and couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a part of that community. 

Really think about the program you're going to do. There are definitely a lot of things I'd rather be studying but in the end, I considered other factors more important. 

4. Where Your SO is Going

0/10 and would not recommend to a friend.

I'm sure we'd all like to say we're super independent and no, following our SO to university never crossed our minds. It absolutely crossed my mind a lot and whenever I thought about transferring, I thought about transferring to my boyfriend's school. He ended up picking Guelph and we've been doing long distance. 

Long distance is definitely not ideal but I can also say that if things hadn't worked out between us, I would have been pretty pissed off that I followed him and I would have no one to blame but myself. Even more so, if I didn't end up liking Guelph I would have resented him a bit thinking that I could have loved Queen's and would have gone there if not for him.

Don't base your university decision on someone else. Not only is it not fair to you, it isn't fair to them. You have the rest of your life to follow someone for school or for work. Anyway, long distance is really not that bad!

5. Community

This vetoed almost everything else.

This is where you're probably going to differ from me. Community was the #1 thing I thought about when I thought about university. I really didn't like my high school and I was so excited to be somewhere I loved. This is why I chose Queen's and why I chose Engineering, and it was definitely the right choice.

My closest friends aren't even in my program and yet I still constantly feel like I belong to this really insane purple cult. On many occasions, strangers have stopped me on the street and identified me as a Queen's Engineering student by my purple jacket and struck up a conversation about how they also were a Queen's Engineering student.

Between the songs, the traditions and the people, the community is incredible. Queen's Engineering has one of the most amazing communities I've ever been a part of. When I saw the acceptance letter from the program, I couldn't stop thinking about getting to be a part of it.

Should I have put this above everything else? Maybe not. I've thought about transferring programs more times then I can count. I think about it almost every morning when I have to wake up for an 8:30 and on countless other occasions when I think about if I actually want to be an engineer. I've thought about transferring schools too when I was having trouble making friends.

Everyone has these thoughts, but everything I love about Queen's ties to the community. All the regret I might have regarding program and location is so minor compared to how grateful I am to be a part of this community. At the end of the day, make sure you like the community you're going to be joining.

Overall, it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to go to school, as it really does become a second home. Learn from my mistakes; do your research and when you get to your university, really try and put yourself out there.

The biggest thing I've learned? There isn't one 'right' school for you, so rest assured that whatever you choose will be a good choice.