By the time April rolls around, you will have received a few important e-mails from the colleges you’ve applied to. In the next few weeks, you’ll be making one of the most important decisions of your life: Which college will you be writing an acceptance letter to spend the next four years?
Here are some tips to help you make the right choice before the May 1 deadline.
Read the fine print
Skip the glossy brochures and focus instead on the details of each college. Ask yourself questions in the following areas:
• Academics: Do they have the courses of study you want? If you change your mind, are there other majors or academic departments that interest you? Browse course information online. Also, go directly to the site of the department you are interested in for detailed information about research opportunities, course offerings and unique academic programs.
• Social/extracurricular activities: Does the college offer the social life you want? How far do you want to be from home? Read the campus paper, ask recent alumni about their experiences or talk to students on campus to get a feel for the social scene.
• Finances: Can your family afford the investment? Make an appointment with a financial aid officer to ask questions about your unique situation before writing your acceptance letter for college.
Visit your top three campuses
You probably can’t visit all the campuses to which you’ve been accepted. But do try to attend the spring open house for accepted students. If you can, bring an adult you trust to campus. This person can help you pay attention to aspects of campus life you might otherwise overlook. When you are on campus, ask yourself these questions:
• What is the academic culture like?
• Where will I study?
• Can I handle the work?
• Do students like their teachers?
• Will I enjoy campus life?
• What student groups will I join?
• Where will I live?
• If I need advice, who will help me?
Talk to other seniors
You will meet seniors who are in love with their colleges. You will also meet students who aren’t. Listen to their reasons and hear why they made their decisions before writing your acceptance letter for college.
Get feedback from people you trust
One day you may prefer one school. The next day, you may change your mind and prefer another. This is quite common, so get an outside point of view. Ask your confidants why they think a certain college is the best choice for you. Listen to their advice, but remember you are the one in the driver’s seat.
Pay attention to your gut feeling. Trust yourself. There is no such thing as the wrong choice. Like any experience, college is what you make of it. Take advantage of opportunities, become involved in your interests and your decision will be the right one.
ApplyWise (applywise.com) is an online college counseling program that helps students create a winning college application. It is based on the methodology of Dr. Kat Cohen, one of the country’s leading admissions counselors.