Have you ever made an important life decision (such as where to work or attend school) based on purely emotional factors, even though you knew it was not the best choice for you? Would you do it again?
My choice of college was in part due to my emotions. First if all, I was scared to leave home, so I never did apply to an Ivy League school even though there is a decent chance I would have been accepted had I applied. That's not arrogance, I actually was THAT good of a student at one time, I came from what was then a "desirable" background college-wise (i.e. dirt poor, female, etc), and my SAT score wasn't that bad. Quite a few out of town schools sent letters. I'm not talking about the semi-personalized form letters sent to anyone who takes the SAT, but actual letters that were clearly individualized. I admit that going away would not have been the best decision for me, as I was at the time clearly not capable of taking care of myself on a months long basis. I didn't know how to pack, how to iron, how to cook, how to drive, how to balance a checkbook, or even how to use a credit card. So realistically, it would have been a poor choice to go away anyway, but still fear was a part of it.
However, given that Pittsburgh isn't a slouch in the university department, that probably didn't hurt all that much. It was the choice in local colleges which probably did more harm in the long run.
At the time, there were four local schools I was interested in, and I was readily accepted at all four (How readily? I got called to the counselor's office damn near every day because all of them were interested in me...and no I was not an athlete). For the sake of my privacy, I won't list them, but I will mention Carnegie Mellon University, as it is the school I ultimately did not go to due to fear.
There are two reasons why I did not choose CMU. I chose not to attend CMU because I didn't want to get into debt, because of all the schools, CMU was the only one that not only didn't offer a full-ride, but had a shortfall even after factoring in student loans, family contributions, scholarships, grants, etc. Yes, even after all of that I still would be short a four-figured amount (although the person we talked to insisted that they could make it work, and so did my family), but I balked at it also because the last time I was at CMU for a pre-college summer program, I embarrassed myself academically -- I literally failed my classes. I thought the failure was a red flag of things to come (even though, when in high school I aced the same material so easily that it was scary), so because of fear that I would be a failure AND cost the family money, I chose a cheaper school...and subsequently, got shortchanged academically.
If I knew everything I know right at this second (and didn't forget it as a result of my choice) I would have gone to CMU and taken the risk. Not only would having graduating from CMU have bolstered my resume, but getting a loan for the relatively small amount would have been helpful in establishing credit, something which harmed me last year. At worst, had I failed, I probably could have applied to an El Cheapo school and transferred my credits. But not going to CMU is easily the biggest regret in my life.