Yayayay! If you’re reading this blog today, I suspect you’ve recently been admitted to college, so congratulations! Only 7 percent of the world’s population has a college degree, and you’re officially on track to join them. For some of you this is a long-anticipated next step and for others this may represent a powerful new endeavor for your family...either way, you have a lot for which you can feel proud.
The release of decisions also means that the control is now out of our hands as admissions officers. Interesting, right? As a Regular Decision admit, you hold the reins as you make the exciting choice of where to enroll. This choice might be obvious for a few of you, but most students at this stage will be wrestling with an assortment of practical concerns and emotions that warrant serious consideration. Making this decision might be tough, but it also means you’re in the fortunate position to have options and that is a really wonderful place to be. Here’s how I (with inspiration from my friends from Netflix's Queer Eye) would make the choice:
The hardcore realities of the colleges to which you’ve been admitted are an important place to start to help you narrow down your options. These are practical things like:
You likely considered some of these factors when you formed your college list, but now that your choice has been narrowed to the schools to which you were offered admission, it’s time to return to these sometimes-mundane characteristics and research even further. How you do this is up to you. For some, it will mean visiting (or returning to) campuses and asking questions in person, but most colleges will make plenty of helpful information available online. If you want to connect with a current student in a particular major, just ask! If you want to dive deep into the specific courses required for a certain major, check out the departmental websites. If you’re curious about research opportunities, that might mean checking out individual faculty profiles and seeing whose work appeals to your intellectual interests. If you are curious about pre-matriculation credit awarded for advanced courses you took, Google it and you’re likely to find the equivalencies explained on our websites. (You can call to ask these questions too, but honestly we’re probably just going to read straight off the website…) Admissions officers are here to help with your research AND we encourage you to utilize the many resources we work to make available online for our admitted students.
Just as our admissions decisions are made by considering both the data and voice in an application, you’re likely going to rely on more than the hard facts to make your college decision. While I can’t guarantee that everyone will have the kind of powerful gut feeling that makes your choice obvious, how you feel about an institution matters because, once you get here, your sense of comfort, safety, belonging, and connection will influence your ability to be academically successful. That means you ought to consider how you feel about:
So that’s my advice. Start with the facts, narrow things down, and then dig into the feelings. Depending on your circumstances, you may be feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety as you approach this final decision. It can feel like this choice of where to enroll will define the rest of your life. Honestly, I think a lot of mature adults would agree that this is not the case...because no matter where you end up, you have the strength, intellect, and passion to pursue and achieve whatever goals you develop. Above all, I encourage you to remember that 1) there are smart, interesting, kind people at each of the colleges you’re considering, and 2) so much of the value you find in your time in college will come from what YOU make of the experience, regardless of the institution you attend.