The colleges have made their decisions about whom to admit; now it’s your turn to decide and, if necessary, get college admissions advice. And to help you make that decision, you’ve probably received three trees worth of glossy pamphlets and brochures inviting you to open houses, tours and other events.
To narrow your choices, review the qualities that are most important to you and receive college admissions advice if you need more details on your college.
What kind of environment do you like best?
A sprawling urban campus will offer different experiences than a campus that’s the focal point of the town.
“At first I thought I wanted somewhere really metropolitan,” says Chantal Little, a senior at Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville, N.Y. “I went to look at McGill [in Montreal], but once I got there I realized that I didn’t really think that through. I needed something more rural. Meanwhile, I was looking at Colgate University, which I initially felt was in cow country, but I ended up really loving it when I visited it and realized that I wanted something more rural.”
How important is the school’s reputation?
In your future career field, how far will a college’s name get you?
Does it pay to attend a name-brand school, or is name recognition not that important?
Tova Markovitz, a high school junior from Newburgh, N.Y., made sure the schools she visited were “places that had students who worked as hard as I did to get in. I really want to be in classes where I know that the students aren’t slacking and really deserve to be there.”
Tracy Phutikanit, a junior and tour guide at the University of California-Riverside, says even students who think they’d prefer big-name campuses should consider smaller schools, too.
“When doing college visits, I personally learned about myself that I didn’t like the competition at the big-name schools and wanted a smaller campus and a smaller school,” Phutikanit says.
What size school are you looking for?
Knowing what kind of experience you prefer can help you narrow your choices.
“Because Voorheesville is so small, I knew I wanted to go somewhere bigger, but not so huge that I’d experience a real culture shock,” says Little.
What’s your major?
You don’t absolutely need to know your major when making your final college choice, but make sure you choose a school that has several options you’d strongly consider.
“The major was a big part of the schools I decided to visit,” Little says. “I wanted to go to school for science or nursing, and I needed to make sure that wherever I went had those majors.”
Does this school mesh with your budget?
Take a good look at your financial aid package. Be aware of how much you’ll pay out of pocket for college, and how much your family can help you toward those costs.
Have you visited yet?
If you haven’t yet visited all the colleges that have accepted you, now’s the time to go and receive college admissions advice.
Chantal Little initially had written off Colgate University for its rural characteristics. But after getting a feel for the campus, she says it’s now one of her first choices.
“We really want you to come visit,” says Tracy Phutikanit. “Virtual tours and word of mouth are good, but you get the best impression from coming here for the day and letting us show you around.”