When it comes to selecting the right college, internship, or club to join, it is always important to choose the place that best suits your needs. A lot of times we tend to only focus on prestige and rank, but a more important thing to remember is how you see yourself fitting into the environment.
Can you see yourself walking around the campus? Can you see yourself making meaningful relationships? Can you see yourself being happy? These are all things that you should be asking yourself. Instead of asking questions like what does the salary look like or what the average GPA is, maybe ask questions like what does the company do to promote personal well-being or what does the university do to foster diversity and inclusion?
Going to a new place can be extremely terrifying, and it's important to put yourself and your own needs and interests before the prestige of the organization.
Before choosing a place based on its prestige, it is first important to see if the organization has values that are similar to your own. When I was in high school, a friend asked me if she should write a college essay about her Muslim identity. I asked her why she wouldn't and she responded that she was scared that they might not like her essay because of the bad stereotypes that people sometimes associate with Muslims.
If you feel like you have to hide a certain part of who you are in an application, that place isn't for you. You deserve to be in an environment who accepts you for who you are.
Another aspect I like to consider is my opportunities for personal growth. You never want to feel bored or like you're trapped doing the same stuff over and over again. It's so easy to feel trapped in a bubble (seeing the same people, doing the same tasks, etc.), but a lot of places offer really good opportunities to go out of your comfort zone and continue learning.
While making a life-changing decision, it is okay to go out of your comfort zone, but it's also important to keep in mind who you are as a person. Don't go somewhere that you feel like you won't be happy. Don't go somewhere just because it's ranked #1 in something. Go somewhere where you can see yourself flourish, meet incredible people, and feel like you belong.