Deciding Which College to Attend
For students who applied early, decision letters have arrived or will be arriving soon. I love to see the switch get flipped in students (and parents). Previously, the overwhelming worry is “Will I get accepted? and “Am I good enough” And once a couple acceptance letters arrive, all of a sudden the shoe is on the other foot and thoughts change to “Why should I attend your college?” and “What do you have to offer me?”
So, what should accepted students do?
First, students should take a nice deep breath and appreciate all of the good news they have received. All the hard work, test-taking, essay drafts, and activities they have done have been appreciated by colleges and that is something to be proud of. Congratulations!
Second, students must maintain their grades. If the acceptance letter is read closely, they all say something similar in that the acceptance is conditional on a successful completion of the senior year. While it doesn’t happen frequently, a significant drop in grades, frequently called senioritis, can result in a withdrawal of the acceptance. While I mentioned above that they should appreciate the good news they have received, they shouldn’t overdo it.
How do students make the decision?
Accepted Students Days – in the spring, many colleges offer these day-long experiences so that accepted students can learn more about specific majors and departments, explore campus more deeply than the admissions tour, and communicate with other accepted students.
Overnight Stay – some colleges allow accepted students to stay overnight with a current student allowing students to experience a night in the dormitory and a few hours observing classes.
Accepted students Facebook page – colleges have a Facebook page so that accepted students can learn more about the college, but more importantly connect with other potential enrolling students.
Tour campus – seeing campus again, but through the lens as an accepted students is quite different than as a potential applicant. It allows students to “kick the tires” and look at campus from a different perspective.
What characteristics should they look at?
- Internship and co-op opportunities
- Ability to get practical experience in the major as early as possible
- Social fit with other accepted students
- Curriculum requirements
- Career center and placement
- Retention and graduation rates
- Distance from home and airports
- Housing options for freshman (doubles, triples, quads)
- First year supports
- Extracurricular options (intramurals, clubs, concerts, plays, study abroad, etc.)
- Work opportunities
- Academic supports and how tutors are selected
College is quite an expense and a time commitment. While transferring colleges is more common than many people think, it is still important to do thorough research on making the final decision. Some people say that high school is the best four years of your life while others say it occurs during college.
Either way, feeling comfortable with the final decision is vital. College students should be enthusiastic about enrolling in the school where they will attend the next four to six years of their lives. The best way to start off the year on the right foot is to do research on the schools, make connections with classmates, and buy enough laundry detergent and ramen!