It’s no secret that colleges and universities exist all over the world. As of 2013, the United States alone housed over 4,725 two-year and four-year institutions, as well as for-profit and non-profit schools.

The geographic location of where you choose to attend college can truly make or break your experience, and it could potentially make an impact on how involved you get on campus. There are plenty of factors to consider when choosing the place you’ll spend the next four years—so how to you make an informed decision with all those options out there?

We’ve compiled a list of some helpful elements to consider as you think through the locations of your top college picks. Hopefully some of these pointers will help you vet the alternatives and select the best option based off of your preferences and what will be beneficial to you in the long run.

1. Close to home or far away 

This is a big clincher for a lot of college students. While attending a college far from home might feel glamorous, it’s important to consider what it really means. Depending on how far away you go, transportation to your hometown might be very expensive and may restrict you from traveling home more than once or twice a year. This also means no quick trips home for some of your mama’s cookin’ or to do a couple loads of laundry for free over the weekends.

On the flip side, moving to a new city for school can be incredibly refreshing. Learning to understand the culture of a different region of the U.S. can teach you a lot about yourself and others, and you might be exposed to opportunities you wouldn’t have had the chance to be a part of back home. Chances are, you might feel homesick at first, but this will fade as you make new friends and get involved with your new life.

2. Urban or rural 

Do you love city life? Or do you think you have more of a penchant for the country? Consider if the college you want to attend is located near a big metropolis or if it’s out in the middle of nowhere. There are also plenty of schools found somewhere in between, and these campuses generally have a few small towns or suburbs nearby.

Consider your major when thinking through this factor as well. Will you need to be close to major hospitals? Or would your degree fit better near a dense forest or the tropics? Depending on what you study, you’ll want to make sure you have ample opportunities to put your knowledge to the test and experiment with your new skills in the best location possible.

 3. Climate

Do you hate the cold, or have you grown up skiing your whole life? Would you prefer to fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves or the chirping of crickets and bullfrogs? There are a lot of beautiful places in America, and there is certainly a wide variety of climates to choose from.

Before you settle on a university, consider what the weather will be like all year around. Will you have to invest in a parka for the winter months? Do you sweat easily when it’s warm outside? This might feel like a silly thing to consider when picking a school, but it’s important to recognize what your reality might be once you are living in a new climate for nine months out of the year.

4. Campus environment 

After you’ve considered the above elements, take a look at what the campus environment offers. If you attend college in a warmer area, there might be more days out of the year when students can be out on the lawn, lounging, studying, or playing ball. On some coastal campuses, it’s not out of the ordinary to have direct access to the beach, which can certainly make studying more fun!

Some campuses are more wooded than others or offer environmental features such as ample jogging paths. If the campus is situated on a lake, you may have the opportunity to canoe or sail. If you’re looking at a campus in a cooler climate, consider if there are cozy fireplaces or underground tunnels available. These can make all the difference when it’s windy and snowy outside.

There’s no wrong answer

Whatever location you end up choosing, you can’t go wrong. There will be pros and cons to every location, and if you’ve carefully thought through the above options, you’ll end up picking something that’s right for you.