First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS! If this post has piqued your interest, you have likely heard back and been admitted to a few colleges by now, which is a huge accomplishment. Once you have heard back from all the colleges that you applied to, you then get the huge and exciting task of selecting which place will be your home for the next four years! While this may be a super easy decision for some students, there are several students out there who likely have no idea where they will be going next year – and that’s OK. I am here to provide a bit of information and insight into some of the things that might be crucial factors in your decision.
1. Consider the more practical pieces of the equation. Look at the different housing options each school offers and identify which resonates most with what you are looking for. Take the financials into account: which schools are the most financially compatible with your family’s situation for the next four years? Look into other aspects that might be important to you such as dining options or academic accommodations.
2. Consider the location of the schools. Are you looking to attend a school located in a city or more in a rural area? Look at the locations of each of your potential schools and take note of the setting, as well as how accessible transportation into local towns or cities might be. Can you have a car or is there a form of public transportation you can utilize?
3. Consider the more fun pieces of the equation! Look at the student clubs/organizations and athletic offerings to see if there are things you are interested in. Consider what students do on the weekends: do they go home, stay on campus, go into the city, etc. Which schools offer campus traditions that you can see yourself taking part in?
4. Consider the academic fit of the institution. First of all, do you have a clear idea of what you are looking to study or are you still relatively undecided? Look at the major and minor offerings to see if there are programs that you could ultimately see yourself declaring. It also might help to consider whether you matriculate into a school with a major or undeclared, and how much time a school gives you to officially declare a major. Is the school focused on research? Is the school focused on the liberal arts? My advice here would be to identify what you are looking for within a school and once you have a clear idea of this in mind, compare your ideal school to the offerings at all your options.
5. Consider the overall vibe of the institution! You are really choosing your home for the next four years, so it is crucial to consider the people and the community you are thinking about joining! Are the people that you have interacted with either virtually or on campus welcoming? Is this a school where you feel you could easily become part of the community and a place you could feel at home?
Before deep diving into the individual offerings at all the colleges/universities you are considering, I would recommend making a list of things that are non-negotiable for you in your college experience. Whether that be a specific sport, a certain major, or the vibe of campus, I challenge you to make a list of the things that a school should have to maximize your success there. Once you have identified the most important factors for you, you can start narrowing down which schools offer everything you want without compromising on the things that are most important to you!
If there are schools you have not been able to visit or questions that arise while looking through your acceptances, do not hesitate to reach out to people at the colleges/universities you are considering! Utilize the websites, as there is so much information you can find there, from athletic offerings to the meal plan to campus traditions and more. If you don’t find the answer to your question, just ask! There are a ton of people in your corner who want to help make your decision as easy as possible.
While I know that there are a lot of factors to consider, just know that there is no wrong choice. Every institution has great people and great things to offer, it is just about finding the place that you feel most at home. Remember throughout this process to breathe, look at all the options ahead of you, and to celebrate yourself and all of your accomplishments! Congratulations, you have a bright future ahead of you!