College is a great experience, if only because you are (sort of) on your own and there are amazing resources for learning, as well as lots of cool people to meet. There are a lot of douchebags there of course, but there will also be at least a few interesting and highly intelligent students. There are a lot of interesting cultural and academic clubs and events that you can go to, if you find something that interests you. Famous performers and orchestras visit universities from time to time as well. I'm looking forward to seeing the Czech Philharmonic here on Thursday performing an all Dvorak program.
As far as picking a good school, it really depends on what you want to do. You'll want to find schools that are better in certain fields than others. For example, I go to the University of Connecticut and they are well known for psychology and I think chemistry or biology. Since you said in the military training thread that you might enlist, you also might want to look for schools that have the particular type of ROTC that you want. I've been thinking about becoming a Marine officer myself, but my school doesn't have NROTC. You don't have to be in it, but it helps.
For student/teacher ratios, it depends on how you prefer to learn. If you like sitting in a lecture hall with 300 other students taking notes for an hour, doing readings on your own, and then just taking an exam for your entire grade, big schools are fine. In smaller classes, obviously there is more discussion going on, you can have any questions answered, debate, etc. Smaller school have smaller classes usually. However, big schools will still have more small classes than huge ones because the huge lecture halls are only really for the most basic classes. I have both at my school and they both work fine for me.
There are a few colleges that don't give actual letter grades, but rather give you written evaluations so you know what exactly are your strengths and weaknesses. I applied to two of them, Hampshire College and Sarah Lawrence College. I got into the first one, but decided not to go mainly because there are too many of the hippie counterculture types there and they are annoying. However, if the idea of having a different academic experience interests you, you might want to look into those schools.