Many seniors are getting college acceptance letters and emails this time of year. Some are still waiting to hear from a college or two that they are really hoping for. It’s a time of anxiety, worry and celebration!
Once you have heard from the majority of colleges you applied to, it’s time to make a selection. Many students think this will be an easy decision: just go to your “top pick”. But what if your #1 choice college doesn’t offer you as much financial aid as your #2 school? What if one of your other choices has a great summer abroad program?
Thankfully, students and parents have some time to weigh their options and decide which college to accept. Here are some guidelines to help you (and your parents) decide on the best option:
Students Should Take Their Time
Breathe! Students generally have several months before deadline to commit. Don’t rush it and accept early, especially if there are still some colleges you haven’t heard from.
You should also make a list. I know, I know, it’s a little nerdy, but you want to make sure that your college of choice aligns with your wants, needs and expectations. Put your priorities at the top, whether those are a great engineering school, the most financial aid, or cool dorms. Then list everything else that’s important to you and rank the schools by that list. You will often see a “winner” pretty quickly.
Do Some Research
Find out more about the financial aid packets and awards. Run the numbers: how much will it really cost you to attend? And factor in costs that aren’t found in the letters. Can you find a part-time job near this school? How much will it costs for you to go home for holidays and the summer?
You should also check into other factors like you may have not considered yet: Is the campus area safe? What types of campus events are scheduled? Does the university accept your AP or IB credits? What do students on campus do for fun and does that align with your interests?
Visit College Campuses
Are you still undecided? Then it’s time for a college campus visit and tour. If you’ve visited the campus before, that’s ok because this time you will have a new focus: making sure you get a “real feel” for the school and its students. Sit in on a class, talk to the students, eat in the cafeteria, read the student newspaper, imagine yourself there. Some colleges even let stay in a dorm overnight, which is a great opportunity to get to know the place.
Remember that once you are an accepted student, that college WANTS you. Ask questions that will help you make a decision and will ultimately make you more comfortable and successful at your chosen college.