College Tips - Choosing your School
You've made it! You completed all your applications, toured the schools and waited to hear back. Now, you have your acceptances and a decision to make. Where will you attend this fall? This is a very exciting moment you find yourself in, but can also seem daunting. Take a deep breath, clear your mind and get ready to explore each option one more time as you choose the right school for you.
You likely did your research prior to applying to each school, but that feels like ages ago. It's important to refresh your memory. Your needs and wants in a school may have changed since the start of your search, and your idea of what you're looking for narrowed. Do you need a school with a large athletics program? Are you interested in studying abroad? What clubs and student organizations interest you and are available at each school to which you were accepted? This is when you look for the tangible information and see how each aligns with your goals for a school. You may find this crosses a few acceptances off your list already.
This is the more qualitative portion of your decision making. I often provide my clients with a visit form to complete after each campus visit. This way, they can go back and reflect on their experience when it was fresh in their minds. If you did not do this, fret not! Look back at when you were on campus. How did you feel? What things did you notice about the faculty, the students, the campus? Most importantly, could you see yourself being a part of that community? This is where gut feeling comes in. Sometimes, it really is best to trust your instincts.
The majority of colleges and universities offer accepted student visit days. Go to as many of these as you can and/or need to. Getting back on campus after you've been through the process is important because you are looking at everything in a slightly different light. Get to know the students there, ask questions of them and the faculty. It's your turn to really interview the school! You will also have the opportunity to meet other accepted students, allowing you to see the peers with whom you might surround yourself. Again, do you see yourself being a part of that community?
Consider Financial Aid
No, this is not the most exciting aspect to look at, nor should it be the deciding factor, but it does often come into play and guide many people's decision. It's important to be realistic about what you and your family can and cannot afford. The last thing you want to happen is for you to attend a school, fall in love with it, and have to leave after the first semester because it's just not financially reasonable. Look at it this way - if a school really, really wants you, they will try to make it work. Those schools giving you the largest financial aid packages are putting their neck on the line for you because they see your value. Notice that.
Once you've researched, asked all your questions, reflected, listened to your gut instinct, and made up your mind, commit! Remember to actually send in your deposit to hold your spot. Then, celebrate! You've just made a big decision and you should take the time to be proud of the journey you completed. The next journey is just around the corner.
As always, we are here to help! If you have any questions or want someone to bounce ideas off of, do not hesitate to reach out. Best of luck and happy deciding!