You’ve been running to the mailbox and checking your email for weeks. Finally, the news has arrived. Your college decision letters are in! Now that decisions have been released, your inbox will soon be full of news and helpful links from the schools you’ve been admitted to. The time has come for you to pick a school.
If you’re considering more than one of your acceptances, there are several things you can do to help narrow down your choices.
Go through your papers and review all the basic facts you researched about:
Remember the notable points made by your tour guide and Admissions reps. What initially interested you in the school? Think about whether those reasons are still important to you.
Call and ask students any unanswered questions you have. Have them share their favorite and least favorite things about the school. Try to get a feel for the academic environment—how many hours per week are they in class and how much time do they spend on assignments? Find out whether getting into popular classes is difficult. Let current students tell you what they do in their free time. Do they socialize on or off campus and at what types of venues? Does this sound like the type of social life you’d enjoy? If you plan to visit, ask if they’ll spend time with you on campus.
Pick up The College Bound Organizer by Anna Costaras and Gail Liss to help you along the path to your acceptance letter.
The best way to see if a school feels right for you is to spend time on campus. Walk around and observe what students are doing and whether they seem happy. Stop by the student center. Grab lunch or coffee at the cafeteria. Pick up a copy of the school newspaper, and read what’s posted on the bulletin boards around campus. If you have the chance, talk to students and faculty. It would also be great for you to arrange to attend a class or even stay overnight.
These events offer you the chance to get a close look at what the school has to offer. You may have the opportunity to visit classes, talk to current students, attend athletic events and on-campus performances, and even spend a night in a dorm with a student host. Attend discussions and panels to hear about different school- and student-run programs. Meet other prospective freshman and get to know some of your future classmates. It may be interesting to hear why they’re thinking of attending the school.
A list offers you a way to organize your thoughts and make a fair comparison. Pick the things that are most important to you and compare them from one school to another. For example, does one school have an academic program you’re particularly interested in that the other schools don’t offer? Consider size, location and distance from home. How about school spirit? If financial aid is relevant, is the school’s aid package adequate? Talk to your parents and review your list of pros and cons with them, and also ask your guidance or college counselor for feedback.
Thursday, May 1 is National College Decision Day. Review your acceptance package carefully, and if you’ve received an offer for financial aid, make sure you understand the details. If you have any questions, stop by the guidance office and talk to your counselor. You can also reach out to admissions and financial aid officers for answers.
Finally, submit all the required documents and information by the specified due date. You’re making an important decision and will soon be on your way to an exciting new adventure as a member of the class of 2018.
Check out Right College, Right Price by Frank Palmasani for more on how to evaluate the affordability of your options.