Dear Seniors: Last December you were unhappy and concerned because you were deferred by your early decision school and thought you probably weren’t going to be accepted anywhere. You then applied to 10 more schools just to be safe. Now four months later you discover that most of those schools have accepted you and you’re in a quandary about where to spend your next four years.
If finances are not an issue, then disregard that conversation with your parents. If affordability is important then figure out using a cost comparison worksheet whether your family can underwrite a huge ticket school that has offered little scholarship money or financial aid. Frequently private schools are less costly than public universities which offer little in financial aid. If the cost is unaffordable, then it’s time to remove that school from your list
rather than leave your parents with no money for their retirement.
Revisit the colleges’ websites. Look for an area on the site that’s
specifically for admitted students. Check for students you can email with questions. Are there students from your high school or family friends who attend these schools. I frequently put my clients in touch with current students.
Many colleges sponsor local meetings for accepted students.
Prominent alums may attend and even speak. They are recruiting you and it gives you the opportunity to meet others who have been accepted.
Revisit the colleges! Attend “accepted students day” on campus. This will give you an opportunity to meet other potential students, talk to faculty and get a feeling for the school. It is imperative to visit the campuses you’re considering if you haven’t been there yet.
Make a list of all the factors that are important to you, so you can rate each one to see if it fits your needs.
Download the evaluation form* from my website which is very effective in comparing colleges. Some factors to consider while visiting:
- If you know it, do they have your major?
- How easy is it to change majors?
- How is the advising?
- Are there opportunities for internships
- If important to you, is there Greek life?
- Are there club’s?
- Student diversity?
- Appealing housing?
- Is it convenient to access by plane, train, or automobile?
- Size of school?
- Concern about safety?
- Any negatives which stand out?
Spend a week night in the dorm. Eat in the dining hall and visit a few classes.Talk with professors from academic departments that interest you.
Do undergrads have an opportunity to do research? Will you be sufficiently challenged?
- Talk to students about their classes. Talk to them about the academic and social environment on campus. Ask them about campus life, politics, sports, or whatever is important to you.
- If you are a recruited athlete, meet with the coach and members of the team. These are the people you will associate with the most for the next four years. Does this environment feel comfortable?
- If you have academic support needs, be sure to visit the office of the providers who will be responsible for providing this support even though you might not want it now.
- If financial aid is an issue, make an appointment with the financial aid office to review your finances. Take your 2014 tax returns and financial aid application with you. If you have had a change of financial circumstances, discuss it with the financial aid officer. These issues don’t just go away!
- As you visit the campus, inquire about your safety concerns, crime on campus and campus escort service. Is it readily available?
Above all, use good judgment as you evaluate the whole campus
environment and social scene. Is it a place you would feel comfortable being for the next four years? So much of this decision comes down ultimately to your gut feeling. Is it a good fit? Listen to your gut. 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. As you eliminate each option on the way to #1 you will feel liberated.
And don’t double deposit. It will only delay your choice and it’s unethical.