Now that the admission committees have given you their decisions, the power is back in your hands. It is time for you to choose which college to attend. For some, this choice is easy. Maybe you were admitted early decision or have a clear first choice. For others, the decision is more difficult. If you applied to a balanced list of 8-12 schools, chances are good that you have been accepted to more than one. Hopefully you did your research before applying, and many of these acceptances are from schools you have a genuine interest in that are also a good fit for you. But, if you have not visited many of the schools on your list, you and your parents disagree about what is best for your future, or you can’t figure out what you want, this important decision can seem even more daunting. So how do you ultimately decide where to spend the next four years?
First, identify your options. With your family, begin to narrow down your choices by eliminating those schools that you and your parents agree you will not attend. This might be because you were admitted to and are considering other schools that are better academic, social, and financial fits. Once you have done this, then determine the factors that you will use to make your decision. Review what you have learned and continue to conduct research to learn more about the academic, social, and financial aspects of attending the schools you are considering. Whether or not you have a first choice, it might be a valuable exercise to sit down with a parent or counselor and create a list of pros and cons for each school. This list should include the strength of the department you’re interested in majoring in (or, if you’re undecided, the overall academic opportunities at each school), location, size, student life, and any extracurricular activities you may want to participate in. Also take into consideration each school’s career services and alumni networks – this is a lifelong decision, not just four years.
If scholarships, loans, and grants are a consideration you should evaluate all of your options. Talk with your parents or counselor to get a clear picture of how much debt you (or your parents) may be taking on and exactly how much your family will be able to afford. Even if you are a full-paying student, you may want to consider the value of the education you’ll be receiving. For example, is College A really worth $10,000 more than College B in terms of academic and social offerings? If you’re still undecided, try to narrow down your list as much as possible and then schedule a second round of college visits. Remember though, most schools require a decision and deposit by May 1st.
If all else fails, go with your gut. It is important to undergo rational decision-making processes like making lists and prioritizing attributes, however, intuition can be the best guide. Here is the good news: There is rarely a wrong choice. Like any experience, college is what you make of it. Take advantage of opportunities, choose challenging classes, get to know your professors, get involved in research, become involved in your interests, and your decision will pay off. Chances are you will be happy at any of the schools on your list. After all, you applied to them because you discovered they were good matches for you. Best of luck from all of us at IvyWise!
Copyright IvyWise, LLC ©2012