HomeArticlesDifficult Decisions: How Do I Choose My #1

Dear Estelle. You guessed it! I have too many options. When I was applying to colleges last fall, I became really nervous. What if I didn’t get into college anywhere? Everybody kept talking about how acceptance rates were dropping at the top colleges and even though we were all high achieving students maybe our records wouldn’t be good enough. Totally I applied to 10 schools including my mother’s alma mater. Then the acceptances started pouring in; some colleges even called me. Now I’m overwhelmed. At this point, I have it down to my top four but I am concerned I won’t be able to choose only one.
RJF, Cherry Creek High School

What everybody didn’t tell you when you were applying to colleges last fall was that the ridiculously low acceptance rates only apply to about the top 20 colleges and universities in the country, the Ivies and then some others. This results in a trickle down effect to the next tier of schools but surely not to the extent where well-qualified students need to be concerned about not being accepted anywhere. Overall the acceptance rate nationwide is about 70%.

So you have a good problem and a bad problem. You’ve been accepted to many colleges, but some you’ve never seen. And you can only pick one! Is it possible at this late date to visit a few you haven’t seen? Perhaps. Are there a few on your accept list you’ve visited and can see yourself attending? Many people can’t visit all the schools before they apply.

Revisit the colleges’ websites. Look for an area on the site that’s specifically for admitted students. Check for students and professors you can email with questions. Write to the admissions representatives. See if there are students from your high school who attend “X” or “Y” college. Call them and get their input. I frequently put my clients in touch with current students. There are several websites where students and parents compare notes on colleges. These explore the environment and other nontraditional factors. Two good sites are Collegeprowler.com and Collegeconfidential.com.

Review the factors that were most important when you first started the college search. Think about yourself. What do you want out of college?

Compare your choices and see which fit your criteria. Check the cost and financial aid factor with your parents. Consult with others about your options but ultimately make your own decision. Using your gut feeling about a school will often help to cement your decision.

Try not to stress too much about your final choice. If you were careful in selecting your colleges in the beginning, chances are your final choice will be a good one. Above all, remember you can always transfer!

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