You’ve gotten accepted to college! Congratulations! The months of making tough decisions are over. No more application essays, SAT exams, or scholarship forms. Maybe you’re thrilled that the torment of getting into college has passed and you can relax. Except…you excelled tremendously during the application process and now four, five, even ten universities are vying for your enrollment. How do you make the choice when each school has its own advantages and charms?
Avoid decision fatigue! Follow Parros College Planning’s nine steps in choosing the college that is right for you.
1. Create a shortlist of the colleges that you’re seriously considering
Maybe you applied to three safety schools, three match schools, and a reach school. If
after receiving your acceptance letters you’ve been offered a spot at all seven colleges, the safety schools may seem less appealing. Contrastingly, cost, distance from home, or the campus environment might help you narrow your list. Whatever your strategy, eliminating some colleges from consideration early in the process will expedite your eventual decision.
2. Make an extended list of your priorities for education, financial cost, and environment
Write out the pros and cons of each school you’ve been accepted to. Consider not only
academic prestige, but also if you can afford to attend, and how you’ll fit in with the campus environment. In thinking about the environment, examine school size, city size, location, and campus layout.
3. Consider national university and department rankings
It’s possible that college rankings aren’t a top priority in choosing which college you will
attend, but future employers will look at your school’s name and reputation as key indicators of your performance. Make sure the academic quality meets your standards and will aid you in achieving future career goals.
4. Weigh the importance of location
Ask yourself where you’re comfortable. If you’re from a small town you may be terrified
of living in a huge city like New York (and vice versa). At Parros, we believe getting out of your comfort zone can often be very valuable, but you know if you’re suited for certain locations. Similarly, think about how far away you’re willing to be from your family and what weather conditions you’ll face at a new school.
5. Compare financial aid packages
For many students, their college decision will ultimately come down to finances. Examine each financial aid package, investigate whether the college will negotiate with you on your deal, and exhaust grant and scholarship options to ensure every school on your shortlist is within reach.
6. Visit campuses and experience all you can
Hopefully you visited before applying. If you have, great, visit again. If you haven’t, we
highly recommend you explore a campus before committing to four years there. Look at the dorms where you’d be living, the cafeteria food that you’d be eating, the gym and athletic facilities you’d be dragging yourself to after binging pizza during a study sesh. Also, talk to the students, academic advisors, and professors to gauge the personality of those you’ll be working closely with. Audit a class or at least visit the classrooms to imagine if you can see yourself there. For fun, go to a sporting event, theater performance, or art show, stock up on spirit gear and envision life as a student.
7. Look to the future
Think about your future career and how your university will help with job prospects, alumni networks, and connections to industry. Where you are located can often be essential. If you want to live in Chicago, studying in the Midwest generally or the city specifically will likely provide you with more opportunities for internships than studying across the country. If you know you want to get into a highly competitive industry, attending a school with a bigger alumni network like the University of Michigan’s may be advantageous compared to smaller schools with less graduates to offer help.
8. Ask yourself what you want out of college
Everyone’s objectives are different, make sure your match the experience you’re signing up for. Don’t go attend a school because your parents, teachers, friends, or significant other wants you to unless it’s also truly what you want.
9. Understand that the best choice may be different than what you had expected
If you had a picture of your college decision in mind and now you’ve realized that dream
isn’t what you actually want, that is fine! Finding a college fit is not an easy or clear process. In the end, go with your best option, what actually works with your finances, academic goals, and desires for a fun college experience. With multiple wonderful options, and the thorough consideration through the previous eight steps, you cannot go wrong.