There a several criteria you may use in selecting a graduate school, e.g. prestige and ranking, location, size, the presence of friends. I guess I took all of those factors into account but the deciding factor was a professor who I wanted for an advisor. Many of you will recognize the name, Dr. David Himmelblau because his book, Basic Principles and Calculations in Chemical Engineering, has been used for the introductory chemical engineering course by many schools for decades.
I wanted to work for Dr. Himmelblau because of his other books and publications dealing with process simulation. Not only were his topics of interest to me, but I was also impressed with how clearly he presented the material.
The final factor in selecting a grad school is being accepted by the school. Fortunately, U. of Texas accepted me in spite of my low grade average (according to them, although I had the second highest grade average in my class at KSU!). Apparently grade inflation had been rampant in the four years since I was graduated from KSU, or KSU and UT graded differently. Regardless, I was "in", so the next year my new bride and I drove to Austin to start a new chapter in our life.
As the recipient of a graduate research assistantship, I made the rounds talking to the ChE professors and learning about their projects. I had to select three as my preferred choices, and then the professors made their choice. I did not get Dr. Himmelblau. So, I gave up the assistantship but I was allowed to work for him as requested. The department was very understanding and they found other jobs for me as a class instructor. Also, I understood that the professors were restricted by their approved grants and funding.
The message is to make the department aware during the application process if you have a particular professor you want as an advisor because of a research interest. If they can't accommodate that request, you might be able to find a second choice at another school that works in the area of interest to you. I'm sure my career would have been radically different had I worked on a non-computing research topic. Since I've really enjoyed my career thus far, I'm glad that I persisted in getting Dr. Himmelblau as my advisor.
The main reason that I had a research preference was because I had worked in industry before returning to graduate school. Those four years gave me a much better understanding of the various kinds of ChE jobs which in turn led to my desire to follow a computing/process design career. Unless you have a burning desire to do research in a particular area after your B.S., then I recommend getting some work experience before deciding upon graduate school.